Monday, December 29, 2008

A Numbers Game

RT Staff Note: The following is from an e-mail we received from a reader who has a son that went through the recruitment process in California. His perspective provides some good advice for players in warm weather states that may not be getting the offers that they desired.

As a California parent of a son that was a pretty good high school baseball player, I had to broaden my horizons to help him find a college where he could play baseball. It wasn’t till I had been through the process that I really learned what the obstacles were and how to overcome them.

One thing that never dawned on me was as a California kid, the numbers are stacked against you. By this I mean that there are more kids playing baseball with far fewer college opportunities than exist in other states. I didn’t know how significant it was until a sat down, ran some number using public data.

By my estimate there are about 45 kids playing high school ball in California for every one roster spot at a 4-year college. I then did the same analysis for 5 other states to see how California stacked up versus; Texas (34 kids), Oregon (27 kids), North Carolina (16 kids), Ohio (16 kids) and Pennsylvania (12 kids). I suspect if I took it out and did all fifty states the variance would continue to grow.

The message for ball players in warm weather states is if you are not finding an opportunity in your back yard, expand your horizons.

The Analysis

I took the number of high schools from the Department of Education files and assumed that 80% of them play baseball. This accounts for small schools, single sex schools and those without athletic programs. I did not test the validity of the assumption but it should not materially change the relationship that exists.

I then assumed that each high school graduates 10 baseball players a year (some will do more some less). The number of schools times players graduated each year creates a population of college eligible players each year.

From I identified the number of 4-year schools that have baseball teams in each state.

I specifically eliminated junior colleges for the analysis because it represents the same group of kid’s only 2-years later; they will ultimately be replaced by the same number of high school graduates. Once I identified the number of schools, I assumed a 35 man roster with one-quarter being incoming freshman or alternatively transferring juniors. This defines the number of roster spots available each year.

When you compare the number of high school players to the number of roster spots available, you can see that California produces nearly three times the number of high school players per college roster spots for its state as compared to some eastern states.

My Point

My point is there is opportunity for kids to play ball. You need to understand how and where you fit into the maze of college baseball. A big part of that is “understanding the numbers” so that you can help your son find a place where they will get the opportunity. For my son, out of northern California he ended up in Texas where he has had the opportunity to get a great education and play on a team that has made it to the NCAA tournament.


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