Ever heard of Moneyball? Michael Weis ’13 lives that reality every day in his role as a baseball analyst for the Baltimore Orioles. Weis played baseball his whole life—he even played for another university before transferring to TCU, so it was always clear to him what his dream career would be: to work for a Major League Baseball team someday.
Long before Weis began working for the Orioles, he graduated from TCU with a degree in mathematics with a concentration in actuarial sciences – the discipline that applies statistical methods to assess risks in insurance, finance and other industries and professions. Although Weis always loved studying math, he wasn’t quite sure that actuarial sciences was the right career path for him, so after TCU, Weis attended graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin where he focused more on data analytics.
Susan Staples, associate professor and actuarial program director, said Weis’ “love of baseball long preceded his college career. Michael utilized his mathematical acumen to complete an actuarial degree at TCU. In his senior year, a talk introducing the new field of data analytics captured his attention. The following year he entered a master’s program in analytics in one of the very first years such a degree existed.” Staples and Weis worked closely together in the actuarial program, and Staples remembers Weis as a driven student, “I am delighted that now he can go to bat and use data analytics to improve game statistics and outcomes for the Baltimore Orioles.”
After receiving his master’s degree, Weis worked in several data scientist roles at various companies but still had the dream of working in the baseball industry when finally, the stars aligned for Weis in February when he started working for the Baltimore Orioles. In his position, the two most important skills include statistics and programming. “Statistics and math are the whole backbone for working in a baseball front office,” said Weis, “so all of the math classes that I took at TCU can be directly applied in my work with stats and probability.”
Lucky for Weis, working in a position that combines the subject that he’s always been skilled at with the sport that he’s always had a deep connection to keeps things interesting, “Because of Moneyball, I had a picture in my head of what my job might be like, and although it’s not exactly the same, it’s pretty close. It feels like I’m doing something meaningful, something that I’m really interested in. That’s what keeps me happy about coming to work every day.”
When Weis first began exploring career paths in mathematics as a student at TCU, he was relieved to discover how many different directions a math degree could take him. “A lot of people think that when you study math in general that you can only become a professor or get your doctorate,” explained Weis, “but applied math is now a growing field and there are so many directions that you can move within that industry.”
Weis feels lucky to have landed a job in the coveted sports industry working for the Orioles. For any students who want to work in analytics in the baseball industry, or other sports, Weis suggests the following advice:
- Volunteer with your university’s baseball program in some analytical type of role.
- Perform your own analysis and showcase it on your own blog or website.
- Try to obtain an internship with a team – attending winter meetings is an easy way to get connected and find out information about internships.