“Are you like the Jonah Hill character in Moneyball?”
Matt Bayer, AB ’11, has heard this question hundreds of times. His response? “Yes, I am. But it would have been more fun if the character had been played by Brad Pitt!”
Bayer works as project director of baseball development for the St. Louis Cardinals, a job similar to the one portrayed by Hill in the 2011 film Moneyball.
“That movie came out 12 years ago,” Bayer says. “It’s ancient history, a completely different world from what we’re doing now.”
Bayer’s job is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Cardinals’ baseball research and development group — and to organize the analysis of data that’s become a part of the game of baseball and most every other professional sport.
“For all the baseball decisions the Cardinals make, we have large datasets that we need to turn into usable information,” Bayer says. “I work with other groups within our baseball operations team to set priorities, help with analytics projects and try to make those decisions easier.”
At WashU, Bayer majored in mathematics and economics, both in Arts & Sciences, while playing baseball for four years — all experiences that align perfectly with what he’s doing now. “It’s not just numbers in a spreadsheet,” Bayer says. “If I had to describe my job in two words, I’d say ‘automate’ and ‘synthesize,’ which is what we’re doing with the data. Every game generates so many numbers. How do we automatically get them into our system and how do we automatically and quickly get the analysis to the coaches and players who need it? How do we present the data so that it’s actually usable?”
And every day, he gets to work in an office inside a Major League Baseball stadium.
“I’m very competitive, so I want to help the team win,” he says. “It’s rewarding because the Cardinals are such an important part of St. Louis. I get to do something I love — and I get to see tangible results.”
He hopes to keep moving forward in his baseball career.
“Most of the jobs I’ve had within baseball have not really existed before,” he says. “Big data in baseball is such a new thing. I want to see where I can be helpful and continue to grow.”
Bayer lives in Webster Groves, Missouri, with his wife, Betty (Gibson) Bayer, AB ’11, and their two children, ages 5 and 3. He describes his life now as a commercial for WashU. “My wife lived across the hall from me my first year. And we still keep up with many of our friends. They live across the country, but we were able to have our own reunion last summer.
“I got a great education; I got to play baseball; and I was able to get this dream job of mine to work in baseball,” Bayer says. “Everything about WashU was a great experience.”