Orioles looking everywhere for analytical talent - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles looking everywhere for analytical talent

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are looking everywhere to find talent. They’re even using job boards to search for some of their most important hires.

No, you can’t apply on a job board for the field manager’s position. That search is being handled by Mike Elias.

However, Elias’ first hire, Sig Mejdal, has used the popular job search engine, Indeed, to list openings for the team’s analytic department. Mejdal was appointed to head the Orioles’ fledgling analytics operation last week.

I don’t regularly search listings for jobs. A reader brought this to my attention, and I found it fascinating that the team would use that forum to find statistical analysts.

Besides the analytic position, the team also has listed a “Partnership Marketing Coordinator.” A listing for that job shouldn’t be surprising. Teams do that all the time, but looking for sabermatricians is different.

The successful applicant reports to Mejdal. The salary is open.

This position is responsible for creating and analyzing baseball datasets through the use of advanced statistical techniques, with the goal of building and maintaining interpretable predictive models and player valuation frameworks to aid in the decision-making of Baseball Operations executives.

That seems easy enough to understand, but the job responsibilities are trickier.

  • Execute SQL database queries to filter, clean and prepare data from existing database.
  • Identify, diagnose and resolve data quality issues.
  • Work with end users to understand modeling needs.
  • Design, analyze, test and implement interpretable predictive models using R.
  • Work with users and frontend developers to create usable tools for the customers.
  • Evaluate, recommend and integrate new data sources (internal and 3rd party external data sources).
  • Complete ad-hoc reports or small studies as assigned throughout the year.

SQL, if you didn’t know, and I didn’t until a few moments ago, is Structured Query Language and is the standard language for relational database management systems. R. is a programming language.

You need a bachelor’s degree in Statistics, Analytics, Operations Research, Mathematics, Computer Science or the equivalent.

Here’s the good part: The applicant must have a “deep passion for baseball and baseball analytics,” and a “willingness to work non-traditional hours.”

Those are important qualifications for baseball writers, too.

A master’s degree and experience in the baseball industry is preferred.

Mejdal’s story is an unusual one. He has two engineering degrees from the University of California at Davis and earned advanced degrees in Operations Research and Cognitive Psychology/Human factors at San Jose University.

He’s worked at NASA and Lockheed Martin before turning to baseball in 2005. With Elias and Houston GM Jeff Luhnow, Mejdal worked for the St. Louis Cardinals until joining the Astros in January 2012.

With the Astros, Mejdal worked with players from the minors to the majors.

“They’re our species, they’re not aliens for which we need some expert to translate and communicate,” Mejdal told The New York Times in April.  “I don’t buy into the idea that a socially mature, sensitive analyst cannot speak to a baseball player, and my experience is that it works just fine.”

Mejdal, who left Houston at the end of the 2018 season, spent the bulk of 2017 season as the development coach for the Tri-City Valley Cats, Houston’s affiliate in the Short-Season New York-Penn League.

The 52-year-old Mejdal was in Troy, N.Y., for the Valley Cats’ season, which runs from mid-June to Labor Day. He threw batting practice, hit fungos and rode the buses to Aberdeen and Coney Island with the team.

He wore No. 21 because he was a blackjack dealer in college.

Mejdal, who had no idea he’d be joining Elias in Baltimore seven months later, gave The Times a clue as to what’s ahead for the Orioles.

“Those early years were so unpleasant in many ways, but our minor leaguers were doing well, and you could see the future coming,” Mejdal said about the Astros experience.

The Orioles have been pilloried because of their lack of commitment to analytics. Hiring Elias, and then Mejdal has shown that there is a commitment to catch up with the leaders of the big leagues.

It will be fascinating to see what Mejdal has in mind for the Orioles.

If you decide to apply for an analysts position, no finder’s fee is necessary.



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