Introducing FanGraphs Prep!

In the new reality of sheltering in place, most schools are now closed. Parents might be looking for new problems and lessons that are interesting to students; it’s a lot easier to keep your mind on a problem when it’s about something that’s already interesting. Teaching addition is a lot easier when you’re counting balls and strikes, or shots and points, than when you’re counting Greek letters or something equally obscure.

To that end, we’re going to be testing out a new program over the coming weeks: FanGraphs Prep. I’ll lay out the project in this article, but in essence, FanGraphs Prep will use baseball as a teaching tool. What we teach is still up in the air, and you can help us with that part by answering a few questions.

For many of the writers at the site, part of baseball’s enduring appeal is the math underlying the game. It’s not the only reason we like the sport, or even necessarily the main reason, but in almost every case, it hooked us as kids. Batting average, ERA, wins and losses; baseball and numbers are inextricable.

For others, the call of the game has been more literary. Roger Angell, Stephen Jay Gould, Jim Bouton — baseball’s written history is rich and varied. Many of us took a flashlight under the covers to read about baseball at night as kids.

In that spirit, we’d like to share our knowledge, and provide what we hope will be a welcome educational diversion for students and those helping to teach them at home. Our plan is to create writing prompts and sample problems that frame different school subjects in the context of baseball. Want to learn basic math? A box score is a treasure box of numbers. Want to learn algebra, or probability? The sport provides excellent examples of those as well.

Before we start this series, we’d like to know what you, the reader, would like us to teach. We’ll endeavor to provide a range of different learning opportunities, but we’d like to know where to focus our efforts. The following questions will help us do just that. First, what grade levels of learning would be most useful to you?

Second, would you prefer us to focus on math problems, developing writing skills, or both? The writing will necessarily be more open-ended, but that’s not disqualifying. The math problems will be more straightforward, though there are still a number of different ways to go within the broad category of “math.”

Within math, there are multiple subjects we can cover. Should we try algebra? Arithmetic? Probability? We’ve got options.

Finally, how many times per week would you be interested in giving students FanGraphs Prep problems? We may not be able to crank out content indefinitely, but conversely, we also don’t need to limit ourselves to an article every other week if there is appetite for more.

Again, thanks for your help in this project. We’d love to know what you think of it — please vote in the polls, or let us know in the comments, if there’s anything you’d like to see out of this new effort.

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4 years ago

Great idea! I made it through graduate school by using baseball to learn statistics!