Sports stats win for Welch ’17

Pitching poster earns first at national competition

by Neil C Evans

June 8, 2017

—Is pitching the most important part of baseball? Phillips Academy’s Matthew Welch ’17 asked that often-debated question and offered statistical analysis to answer it in his own way. The project earned Welch, of Windham, NH, first place in the American Statistical Association’s National Poster Competition.

Stats PosterHe presented thousands of data points graphically using the R programming language, according to instructor Ellen Greenberg, who taught Welch in a year-long AP Statistics class.

“In my journey to find the answer, I derived my own baseball statistic from other pre-existing statistics,” Welch explained. “I named this new statistic – ‘Net Offense to Pitching Ability Ratio’ (NOPAR) and used it to analyze 2,365 games of the 2016 Major League Baseball season.” He enlisted statistical analysis to reject the popular notion that pitching is more important than batting and fielding and demonstrated that exceptional pitching won’t necessarily carry a team to victory. “Teams with higher NOPAR (greater Net Offense relative to Pitching Ability) found more success than teams with lower NOPAR (greater Pitching Ability relative to Net Offense).”

“Matt’s analysis was a literal poster child for Andover's Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, said Greenberg. “He used all three disciplines for his analysis, truly unique among his peers.”