Students’ Statistics Project Wins National Recognition

Posted on March 13th, 2007 by

Gustavus senior math majors Dan Johnson and Tyler Kramer spent their January Term using statistical techniques to examine the impact of steroid use on statistics for home-run hitters. Now their project, supervised by Professor Carolyn Dobler, has won them both national recognition and prize money through the Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition (USPROC) sponsored by the CAUSE (Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education.

Johnson and Kramer have been notified that their project is one of the top three in the nation. When one of them presents their results at the United States Conference On Teaching Statistics (USCOTS) in May, they will learn whether they have won first place ($750), second place ($500), or third place ($250). [Update: they took first!]

[Update: Senior mathematics major Guy Davis also received honorable mention for his project “Who is Baseball’s Best Batter?” His project was ranked as “excellent” and was in the top seven finalists.]

Johnson and Kramer’s abstract follows:

This study shows the difference between a Major League Baseball homerun hitter who uses steroids and one who does not. The sample is comprised of players who reached 500 career homeruns without steroids and the top homerun hitters who have been accused of, or proven, to have used steroids. It is not entirely clear who used steroids and when they began, but based on league testing and congressional investigations these are players who can be labeled as steroid users with a large degree of certainty. The players who used steroids were able to prolong the productivity of their career. Based on the data from players that have hit 500 or more career homeruns without the assistance of steroids, it is apparent that most Major League players peak in their homerun production between their 6th and 10th seasons. Players who use steroids have a peak much later in their career around their 11th through 17th seasons. Even though they are able to increase the productivity later in their careers there is no statistical evidence that steroid users are able to sustain this level of productivity over an extended period of time. Players who have not used steroids have a higher single season average for homeruns for their entire career as well as for their five best seasons. Steroids seem to give players an advantage for one season. The top six single season homerun totals all belong to steroid users and the probability of a steroid user breaking the record for most homeruns in one year is much greater than a non-user. The statistical analysis does not provide conclusive evidence for all Major League baseball players, but rather those who have made a career out of hitting homeruns.


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