By STEVE KRAH
Jeremy Frank has taken his love for baseball and numbers and carved out quite a niche in the diamond community.
Six years after creating @MLBRandomStats on Twitter, he has nearly 78,000 followers.
“It’s really cool that there are that many people out there interested in random baseball stats like me,” says Frank, a 20-year-old Data Science major at Purdue University.
His @Diamond_Digest Twitter account — launched in 2017 — has more than 7,800 followers.
Frank, a 2019 graduate of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill., who hails from Buffalo Grove, Ill., has joined with fellow stat hunter Jim Passon Jr., of Tacoma, Wash., (runs a similar Twitter account — @PassonJim) to publish “Hidden Ball Trick: The Baseball Stats You Never Thought To Look For From 1876-1919 (Vol. 1)” in May 2019 and “Hidden Ball Trick: The Baseball Stats You Never Thought To Look For From 1920-1969 (Vol. 2)” in May 2020. A third volume covering 1970 to the present is in the works,
“It’s a look at baseball’s history through random stats of each time,” says Frank. “We go year-by-year and find the most fun facts.
“We don’t use super-advanced statistics. We might mention the first player with 30 home runs and fewer than 30 strikeouts. We’ll talk about WAR (Wins About Replacement) once in awhile.”
A guest on several podcasts and featured on several websites and more, Frank is especially proud of being invited on ESPN during a Korea Baseball Organization broadcast during the 2020 U.S. baseball shutdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was on at 4 a.m. with play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti and commentator Jessica Mendoza.
“It was really cool for me,” says Frank. “I’m still just in college.”
As a data intern in the summer of 2021, Frank gained experience with Sports Reference, LLC.
“I was able to work on a bunch of projects,” says Frank, who now works part-time on the company’s marketing team.
“I Tweet during games,” says Frank. “It’s the same as on my personal account.”
Just this week, Frank let his followers know the best batting average in at-bats that don’t end in a strikeout.
Chicago Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom (.428) was second on that list. The oldest child of Cubs fan Missy Frank and White Sox fan Nolan Frank counts himself as a Cubs rooter.
“The first few years I was a huge baseball fan was 2015 and 2016 — the best Cubs team in over 100 years,” says Jeremy Frank, whose sister Allison is a Stevenson senior in 2021-22. “I also go to a lot of White Sox games. I was at Mark Buehrle’s perfect game (on July 23, 2009). That’s the first game I kept score at.”
Where did Frank’s affinity for athletics and numbers begin?
“Growing up I’ve always been a big sports fan,” says Frank. “My favorite subject was math.”
Frank devoured the stats on baseball cards and watched the movie “Moneyball” for the first time when he was about 10.
“I saw that teams hire people who use statistics,” says Frank. “My goal since then has been to work in sports.”
While Frank has not yet read the Michael Lewis book that led to the film, he does have a take on the movie.
“It’s kind of outdated now, but the (Oakland) A’s got a big edge because they could compete with big market teams (by utilizing analytics). Now the Yankees still spend and have a team of analytics people.”
But a team can’t thrive on number-crunching alone.
“You have to have good players to win games,” says Frank.
As president of the Purdue Sports Analytics Club, Frank has seen the group got about 30 during his freshmen year to between 200 and 300 this year. The club meets at 7:30 p.m. each Wednesday and recently had ESPN MLB Insider Jeff Passan and Sports Reference, LLC founder and president Sean Forman as Zoom guest speakers.
“We have competitions, trivia nights and analytics projects,” says Frank.
He sees Data Science as “wide-ranging degree that gives you a lot of skills.” This semester, Frank is taking four classes (12 credit hours) — Economics (Game Theory), Computer Science (Machine Learning), Communication and Environmental Science.
Because of COVID-19 protocols, Frank has not been able to get too involved with Purdue sports teams though he did Tweet some stats for the Boilermakers baseball team in 2020.
Frank is seeking a different kind of internship for the summer of 2022.
“I want to get a taste for all the things you can do in sports analytics,” says Frank (Purdue Class of 2023).
What about after graduation?
“Working in front office would be cool,” says Frank. “I’m not sure yet.”
Frank also finds time in his schedule for fantasy sports. He runs baseball and football teams.
“You can use analytics to make money if you find the right things, but that’s not my end goal,” says Frank. “Fantasy baseball is a good way to make me sure I was watching other games (besides the Cubs).”
Then he can tell his Twitter followers things like how Juan Soto is 26-of-51 with 18 walks, 5 strikeouts, 4 doubles, 1 triple and 3 home runs with a .510/.634.804 slash line in his last 15 games.
“There are so many ways you can enjoy baseball,” says Frank. “That’s the beauty of it.”
Using numbers is the way Frank does it.