Joseph Nathan Cohen

Department of Sociology, CUNY Queens College, New York, NY

New Spring Course: Baseball Statistics

New course blends statistics, programming, and baseball

This Spring 2023, Queens College’s Program in Data Analytics and Applied Social Research will offer an upper-level undergraduate class on Data Management, Processing, and Visualization of Baseball Statistics.  This is a baseball-flavored version of the Program’s DATA 333, in which we learn to take raw game data to produce advanced decision-making, prediction, and pricing systems similar to those employed in professional sports and across the economy.  We will study (1) Sabermetrics, the field of quantitative baseball prediction and assessment, (2) basic concepts and operations in the wider field of  data analysis, and (3) how to implement these operations using Chat-GPT and the R software platform 


Course is open to students enrolled in CUNY system with following prerequisites completed:

  • SOC 101 (contact professor to discuss substitution)
  • DATA 205

Potential Topics Covered

Topics expected to include:

  • Evidence-based decision-making systems
  • Data acquisition, including through web scraping and APIs
  • Data cleaning
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Basic inferential statistics
  • Static visualization
  • Classification
  • Index creation
  • Forecasting models
  • Pricing models

We use use game data from sources like Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, Retrosheet, Baseball Savant, and, if possible, Baseball Prospectus.  There is also a possibility of exploring class concepts through the game of fantasy baseball.

Course Rationale

The goal of this class is to encourage student to engage the field of data analysis, and consider it as part of their larger career plans.  Many students have the aptitude to perform data analysis and might enjoy the practice if they were to give it a chance.  Some may be reluctant to try data analysis, because they assume that working with computers and statistics is boring and technical.   This course encourages students to take the leap into the world of advanced data analysis by packaging that leap in baseball.

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