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The Baseball Season Has Arrived....

It is spring...perhaps your break is over and school is back in session...and for some, all recreational thoughts drift to baseball. Yet, as math teachers, there must be a way to make some connections of mathematics to baseball.

The obvious connections are...wait, what are they? A good place to start is in the areas of probability and statistics. This week and next week, the resource reviews will focus on useful resource texts related to mathematics and baseball.

Ken Ross's book Mathematician at the Ballpark. As a mathematician at the University of Oregon (and former MAA President), Ken also spent a great amount of time as a fan in baseball parks. This text is a combination of his two loves.

At its most basic level, the text uses baseball examples to both motivate and illustrate concepts of probability....with the associated goal of helping the reader use probability notions to understand the "future of the game of baseball" better.

Consider these probability ideas and baseball examples as found in this fascinating book:

  • The use of weighted averages to determine who is the best hitter
  • Using odds and probabilities to help determine betting approaches...wide a side examination of Pete Rose
  • The use of conditional probabilities to look at a team's chances for winning under certain situations (e.g. Yankees winning without Steinbrenner around)
  • Using mathematics to determine the expected length of a World Series
  • The use of statistics to examine streaks
Now, when used with students (along with the suggested web sites), the book will have more success if the students are able to explore the mathematic connections by gathering and analyzing their own baseball data. You might even get a coach or two involved!