The Syracuse Mets visited Scranton, Pennsylvania to play the biggest game of the season, a one-game tiebreak on Sept. 13 that would decide which Triple-A club would make the International League playoffs.With each team’s season on the line, the attendance was just 2,422 people, much less than the RailRiders’ average of 6,383. Despite the importance of the game, the low attendance may have been because of who was noticeably absent: Tim Tebow.Tebow’s cult following has risen to such a degree that students from the Syracuse University Baseball Statistics and Sabermetrics club wrote a research paper entitled, “Celebrity attraction in the minors: the case of Tim Tebow,”which was published in the Journal of Economic and Finance in January 2019.After two BCS national championships, an NFL playoff victory and a foray into broadcasting, Tebow has been trying, with varying levels of success, to make a career out of professional baseball. Prior to an injury that sidelined him for the last few weeks of the 2019 baseball season — including the matchup with Scranton — fans filled the minor league bleachers at every level to watch the quarterback-turned-outfielder play.Syracuse’s Baseball Analytics Club took note. Three SU students — Charles Garrett, Cody Barbuto and Kyle Liotta, in conjunction with Dr. Rodney Paul — a professor in SU’s sports analytics program — deduced that Tebow brought in an additional $30,000 to $40,000 of revenue to each minor league game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“It was amazing how he had so much impact, just his presence of being there,” Liotta said. “He wasn’t a very good player.”Modeled after a previous paper that quantified the impact of Michael Jordan’s time with the White Sox Double-A affiliate, the paper sought to quantify Tebow’s monetary impact by using an ordinary least squares regression model — a statistical tool used to analyze the effect of unknown parameters — to gauge the effect of his presence.“It wasn’t that hard,” Paul said. “We had all the stories of, you know, how well [the Mets’ minor league attendance] was doing.”The students and Paul also deduced that Tebow’s on field production had little to no impact on the money he was generating.“When he played better as the season went on,” Paul said. “[Attendance] didn’t seem to be sensitive to that much at all, people were just going to see him.”Karleigh Merritt-Henry | Digital Design EditorMore than 50 students pack into Falk room 200 on Wednesday nights to talk baseball. More importantly, they talk numbers. SU’s baseball statistics and sabermetrics club looks beyond the box scores and dives into the sport that’s been taken over by data-driven decisions.Data analysis is prevalent and growing in almost every major sport to analyze players and gain a competitive advantage. But the real moneyball is done in economic analysis, an executive for the Oakland Athletics said, an essential and growing component of most professional sports franchises.Matthew Perl, director of performance marketing and broadcasting for the Oakland Athletics, said recent industry trends across sports have seen analytics “deployed across the entire organization,” from staffing to partnerships and marketing.Liotta, the head of the baseball sabermetrics club at SU, interned in the Milwaukee Brewers business analytics department last summer, which included seven full-time staff members. Liotta worked with data on sponsorship analysis, social media ratings and feedback from fans. Perl said that the baseball and business side of organizations are almost two separate companies working in tandem.“There are a great amount of decisions being made that are driven by business decisions, not by the play on the field,” Perl said.In the minor leagues, the impact of big-name superstars that come on extremely rare cases, like Tebow or Jordan, have an especially great impact on a team’s attendance compared to stars in the majors. However, every organization, no matter what level, tries to find who and how to market its players most effectively.“In the program,” Paul said. “students are probably more numbers interested and interested in being able to do the math [than focused on sports].”With analytics being a driving factor in almost every decision a professional sports organization makes in 2019, the amount of data points teams are looking at on a daily basis “goes much deeper than the public knows,” said Justin Perline, a 2019 SU graduate who works as a quantitative analyst for the Pittsburgh Pirates.The public was aware that Tebow’s on-field performance was not the only reason the Mets signed him in 2016, but the paper’s formula derived that Tebow’s signing has meant much more to the Mets bottom line than the win-loss column. Comments Published on September 18, 2019 at 12:16 am Contact Mitchell: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+
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