Tuesday, September 29, 2015

GoldSim Model Beauty Contest Winner: Moneyball!

Posted by Rick Kossik

A tradition at our User Conference is to hold a "Model Beauty Contest".  The Beauty Contest is held at the end of the Conference, and is intended to allow our users to focus on the fun side of modeling and simulation.  Beauty Contest entries typically describe a modeling application that is light-hearted (such as a game), amusing (e.g., probabilistically simulating the length of the restroom lines at a football stadium), or simply entertaining. This year's winner (as determined by a vote of attendees) was Joe Donnelly's "Moneyball" model.

Many of you may be familiar with the book (and subsequent movie) Moneyball by Michael Lewis. The book describes how the Oakland A's' front office took advantage of non-traditional analytical gauges of player performance to field a team that could better compete against richer competitors. The book describes sabermetrics, the empirical analysis of baseball, especially baseball statistics that measure in-game activity.

Sabermetrics develops a number of equations that allow one to use statistics to predict the probability of various outcomes during a game. Joe (who when not spending his time building baseball models, builds mine water management models for Hatch) coded these equations into GoldSim, and linked GoldSim to a large database of baseball statistics.  The model that Joe produced allows one to probabilistically simulate the outcome of any particular game (or even an entire season).

The model demonstrated two important things to the User Conference audience:

  • Joe is a proficient GoldSim modeler; and 
  • Joe has too much time on his hands.
We were originally going to award a $200 certificate to the winner, but during the conference, due to the large number of excellent posters we received (see previous post), we decided to redirect the prize to another poster presenter instead.  This, of course, was a terrible blow to Joe.  Therefore, on Monday the powers that be decided to reverse that decision, and we sent Joe his rightful earnings.  The primary reason for doing so was to make it easier for Joe to explain to his wife why he spent so much time building his baseball model instead of doing something productive with his time.  At press time, we understand that Joe has already given the gift certificate to his wife.

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