The Major League Baseball team that pioneered Moneyball is on the verge of a new frontier.
The Oakland A’s have entrusted their rotation to Samantha Schultz, a 26-year-old front-office phenom and pitching analyst with a degree in astrophysics from nearby St. Mary’s College.
“Every team that I’ve ever interviewed for has been very interested in the physics degree,” Schultz told the San Jose Mercury News. “How I can leverage the degree, how they can apply it to pitching and even beyond the actual pitching. I think as someone with a physics degree — my brain works a bit differently than somebody with, say, a computer science degree.”
Schultz was enrolled at a graduate sports management program at Columbia University when she was recruited by MLB’s diversity fellowship program and landed an internship with the Mets.
She was hired by her hometown A’s in 2019, where she’s part of a term of advanced analysts that includes, among others, research scientist David Jackson-Hanen, who has a Ph.D in applied math, the Mercury News reports.
The A’s have long been affiliated with “Moneyball” – an innovative analytics-based strategy forged by general manager Billy Beane that allowed the organization to compete with teams with much bigger budgets by looking for market inefficiencies.
It spawned the 2003 book “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis and the 2011 movie of the same name starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.
Moneyball ushered in a new era of analytics not just in baseball, but in all of sports. It also inspired Schultz, who was just 8 years old when the book came out, and helped her land her dream job with the A’s.
She told Beane during her interview with the team that “Moneyball” inspired her to pursue her loves of both baseball and science.
“I’m glad you brought it up,” Beane replied, the Mercury News reports. “Because the thing I’m most proud about from ‘Moneyball’ is that people like you read that story and think, ‘Hey, I can do this.’”
The A’s are currently second in the AL West with a 67-49 record and fifth in Major League Baseball with a 3.61 earned run average.