Pitching, hitting, defense and offense — all are important to baseball. For Patrick Brennan, freshman in economics, and Andrew Schutte, junior in industrial engineering, there is another important aspect — analytics.
Schutte and Brennan work with the Kansas State baseball team to improve their game with numbers and statistics.
“The team gives us different projects, different reports that they want either once or on a recurring basis,” Schutte said. “We also come up with our own projects or numbers or stats to help them try and either get better or see things a different way.”
Schutte said he became interested in helping the team after seeing an article about similar projects in North Carolina. Schutte and his friend Zach Williams, junior in industrial engineering, emailed the coaches asking if the team had a need for an analytics group. The coaches pointed the two to Brennan who had contacted them previously.
“I had noticed an increasing trend around college baseball of teams utilizing analytical resources, and I thought that I could help in a role like that for K-State,” Brennan said. “So I reached out to the team asking if there was an opportunity for me, and I got a response from Coach [Austin] Wates saying that I could help out.”
Brennan and Schutte both have a strong interest in baseball. Schutte played baseball through high school and even helped coach for a couple years. Brennan played regularly until his freshman year of high school.
“After playing, I took up a strong interest in the analytical, observational and developmental parts of the game,” Brennan said. “This led to me compiling a bunch of my own research and publishing it online. Just by doing that, I’ve made very strong connections from within the industry while constantly improving my skills through practice and advice.”
Brennan focuses on the pitching aspect of the game. Using a Rapsodo pitching unit, he can analyze numerous metrics such as speed, accuracy and grip. Pitching coach Cord Taylor then uses the data in coaching.
“There’s been plenty of stories around baseball of technology like this helping pitchers, so we’re thrilled to have this,” Brennan said.
Schutte focuses on defensive positioning to limit the other team’s offensive output.
A combination of game film, practice videos, sensors and coding programs are used to assemble the data.
Brennan and Schutte agree that concepts from classes help them with their analytics.
“There have been key statistical concepts that I’ve picked up from school, and I have used that knowledge in my analysis,” Brennan said. “I’ve always had a mind geared towards numbers, so it’s definitely cool to put that to work.”
Schutte said he usually thinks of a question he has and then researches how to apply that to baseball.
“There’s some stuff that I do take from class and I think, ‘How can I apply it to baseball?'” Schutte said. “But a majority of it is I go and learn something and then directly apply it to baseball.”
Schutte and Brennan have similar career goals: baseball analytics for college or professional teams.
“Having a career in sports, more specifically baseball, has long been a goal of mine,” Brennan said. “Propelling this experience into a future career would definitely be ideal. I love the game so much. Having a career around it would be a dream come true. That’s a large part of the reason I’m so excited to be working in this current role.”
Schutte adds that sports aren’t limited to only the people who are superfans or athletes.
“I think with like all the technology … it should be even more open because everyone has skills they can contribute,” Schutte said.
“There’s a lot that goes into any college sports program, so being organized and communicative is super helpful,” Brennan said. “I feel like learning this has made me better at it.”