The Role of Data in the Post-Coronavirus Baseball World

Data in the Post-Coronavirus College Baseball World

Things will look a little different as we return to normal life. As we start to see different parts of the country open back up, the impacts of a multi-month shut down are starting to present itself. The college baseball world is one of the many areas that is being affected. It’s pretty clear that as the weeks go on, we’ll see fundamental changes to the post-coronavirus college baseball world. As an aspiring college baseball player it’s important to be aware of these changes and adjust your plans accordingly.

We’re already seeing universities make difficult decisions about their athletic department budgets. Recently, Bowling Green State University cut their baseball program, for budgetary reasons, following the Coronavirus pandemic. Countless universities are in similar financial situations. Unfortunately, BGSU baseball won’t be the only casualty.

The impact of budget cuts and program eliminations

At a first glance, the elimination of a few programs doesn’t seem like it would have a major impact on your chances of playing college baseball. With each program that is cut, 7 to 10 freshman roster spots are eliminated. Additionally, it’s fair to estimate that 10 to 15 of the current players will transfer to another school. This takes up additional roster spots across other programs. A few eliminated programs won’t have a material impact, but if we were to see 30 programs get cut, high school student athletes in certain areas would feel that impact.

Financial restrictions are also starting to affect scheduling plans for the 2021 season, with potential game reductions of twenty to thirty percent. We’ll likely see programs try to stretch their budget by reducing travel, scheduling more games with local schools, and exploring double header match ups. Additionally, spring trips, especially for lower funded programs, may be put on hold for a few years. The other obvious impact of financial cuts is with scholarship money, so programs will likely have to build their rosters with less money to offer players.

As a result of these changes, we’ll likely see a shift in roster trends and overall roster management strategy. Coaches will likely be dealing with very different circumstances than what they are used to. What has worked for them in the past, may no longer work, and a coach’s ability to adapt to a situation will be more important than ever. While it’s hard to predict the level of impact and the exact shift in roster trends, we think that rosters sizes, incoming transfer rates, red shirt rates, and positional depth will experience the most significant swings.

What post-coronavirus college baseball means for recruits

The college baseball scouting/recruiting process has always been challenging for players and parents, even in a normal world. Now that several unknowns have been thrown into the equation, it has certainly increased the degree of difficulty. It’s key that players take advantage of tools, information, tips, or anything else that might benefit them throughout their college baseball search.

One of the biggest areas of opportunity is the utilization of data. In the business world, the importance of data has increased, even during these tough times. As companies are presented with massive challenges, they are relying on data to guide their strategic moves. Companies are realizing that they can no longer afford to make decisions that are backed by subjective views.

High school baseball players should also start to think about how data can provide assistance with their college baseball search. Players are up against shorter recruiting timelines, fewer open roster spots, and a variety of other challenges, so it’s more important than ever to utilize data. There are so many tough decisions to make throughout the process, and these decisions need to be guided by facts.

Aspiring college baseball players will need to adjust to these changes if they are serious about playing college baseball. Before the pandemic, about 6.4% of high school Seniors went on to play college baseball. With programs being cut, schedules being reduced, budgets shrinking, and open roster spots disappearing, we expect that percentage to drop even lower in years to come. It’s time for you to start planning how you will navigate through the post-coronavirus college baseball world.

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