Anton Dahbura, Engr '81 (BS), '82 (MSE),'84 (PhD), is known to his friends by another name: "Tony Baseball." During high school in El Salvador, he provided play-by-play radio and television coverage in Spanish for professional games, including the NBC Game of the Week and the 1976 MLB World Series. At Hopkins, he was an outfielder and a coach, and he and his team sought every advantage possible, "studying opponents' strengths and weaknesses as actionable intelligence. In any game, half of our bench was stealing signs." Baseball was the focus of the first computer program he designed as a freshman, and the game theory class project he produced as a senior. In the '90s, he developed a program to optimize game scheduling for both major and minor leagues.
Today, Dahbura is part owner of the Hagerstown Suns minor league baseball team and, with his wife, Marlaina, provides data analytics consulting for professional teams in Mexico. As a member of the Computer Science faculty at JHU, he advises students' analytic research on baseball, looking at, for example, whether batters perform differently in games with wide score margins. Dahbura is also a partner with the startup SportsLynx.com, which uses data analytics to help professional clubs around the world find the best available players.
With such an emphasis on statistical analysis in baseball today, and the changes that will come with wearable devices, motion-tracking cameras, and other technologies, does Dahbura ever feel nostalgic for when the game was simpler? "Not really," he says. "I remember sitting on the Hopkins bench and thinking, 'Gee, it would be great if I could have some kind of device to keep score and have a way of storing it and then producing, at the very least, the box score stats. So my thinking is always in that direction. How can we apply technology to the sport?"
Oh, and it's also worth noting that as executive director of the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute, Dahbura is a world-renowned cybersecurity expert. But that's a whole other ballgame.
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Posted in Science+Technology
Tagged computer science, faculty