Charlie Hustle: Introduction

Fair warning that this will be a far nerdier breed of writing than you may be used to on The Otter Room. If words like “Python” or “Tensorflow” make you want to pull my underwear over my head and shove me into a locker… please don’t! My goal here is to make these technical concepts accessible and interesting. Throughout the series I’ll be open to feedback and happy to dive deeper into any area.

What is Charlie Hustle?I placed a bet at 4-1 on the Houston Astros to win the 2017 World Series back in June. The bet paid off.

The Astros winning the World Series was a hugely exciting moment for me. I grew up on those Killer B’s teams of the late 1990s/early 2000s. For years I fell asleep looking at this Bagwell/Biggio poster on the back of my door. As a kid, I had a chalkboard in my room where I’d keep track of the ‘stros record throughout the season. I tallied up a lot of L’s, 2005 was devastating.

So when considering what to do with the winnings from my bet, I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t just blowing it on something fleeting. This was a great opportunity to dive into a field that I’ve always been passionate about, but never truly pursued.

Two of my favorite books are Moneyball and Trading Bases.

You’ve almost certainly heard of Moneyball. If not as a book by Michael Lewis, then as a 2011 film starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. The book centers around how Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane used Bill James inspired sabermetrics to propel his small market team to unlikely playoff berths over some of the giants of Major League Baseball.

Trading Bases is the story of a Wall Street trader who, after losing his job following the financial crisis in 2008, is immediately hit by an Ambulance while crossing the street. The injury leaves him bedridden, his lack of a job pushes him to the brink of depression, and he turns to baseball to dig him out. Using skills picked up while working the trading floor he sets out to beat the Vegas odds and profit off betting baseball games.

I’ve always loved baseball, always been fascinated by sabermetrics, and in 2014 I graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in Computer Science. Reading through Moneyball and Trading Bases I couldn’t help but think… why not me?

Charlie Hustle is my way of dipping my toes into the waters of sabermetrics.

Initially, it will be an experiment in using my CS background to dig through a trove of freely available baseball data online, build models to predict outcomes, and turn my World Series winnings into seed money for placing bets on MLB games in 2018. In the future, it could turn into a tool for more targeted player, team, or trade analysis.

I don’t expect to beat Vegas.

I don’t expect to profit.

What I do expect is to learn a shit ton about machine learning, analytics, sabermetrics, and baseball in general.

I’ll be documenting the whole time on The Otter Room dot com and also posting code on Github under the MIT license. The code will be open source and free for downloading, forking, tweaking, improving, and experimenting with.


Why Charlie Hustle?

“Charlie Hustle” was a derisive nickname given to Pete Rose by Whitey Ford after Rose sprinted to first base after drawing a walk. Pete (we’re on a first name basis) wore it as a badge of honer, and of course went on to become baseball’s all-time hits leader.

Pete Rose is currently barred from the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame for betting on the Reds while managing them in the late 80s.

The name seemed fitting 🙂

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