NJIT’s Bruce Bukiet, the World Series Forecaster, is once again banging away on his keyboard, this time to name winners of Major League Baseball’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Cy Young awards for the 2007 season. Bukiet, a popular NJIT math professor, dives annually into such terrain in part for his love of the game, but also for his love of teaching and math. “Baseball can be one terrific learning tool,” he said. Like many professors at NJIT, Bukiet focuses on ensuring that students are not simply taught, but that they learn.
For the American League (AL), Bukiet said, Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who contributed a stellar 6.8 extra wins, should take the MVP honors. “A-Rod would have taken a team that was 81-81 and single-handedly made it an 88-74 team,” he explained. Other contenders are White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez, who emerged in second place with 6.5 extra wins and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz with 5.2.
Bukiet called CC Sabathia of the Indians, whose performance was worth 4.4 extra wins, the AL’s best pitcher and a possible Cy Young winner. Sabathia outperformed the Twins’ Johan Santana, who was worth 3.7 extra wins. Josh Beckett, of the Red Sox, and Erik Bedard, of the Orioles, tied for third with 3.6 extra wins.
In the National League (NL), Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres deserves the Cy Young award since he achieved 5.4 extra wins. Brandon Webb of the Arizona Diamondbacks was the second best NL pitcher with 4.1 extra wins and Chris Young of the Padres was third with 3.9 extra wins.
“My surprise was how the numbers looked for the NL MVP,” said Bukiet. “Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins should win the award since his performance would have added 5.0 wins to an average team.” Tied for second place with 4.2 extra wins were Matt Holliday (Colorado Rockies) and David Wright (New York Mets).
“Using a subject like baseball that everyone wants to know more about is a wonderful way to inspire even the most phobic math student,” Bukiet explained. “Bringing this kind of information into the classroom is fun for me and fun for my students.”
Bukiet has received two teaching awards from NJIT and a promotion since he started working there in 1989. Not surprisingly his math reputation is reinforced even when he sends an email. “A day without math, is like a day without sunshine,” his electronic signature reads.
Bukiet’s method takes into account each player’s statistics for the 2007 season and applies a Markov process approach to modeling production of runs in baseball games. Bukiet first presented his mathematical model in a 1997 paper published in the journal Operations Research. The method has been used in the past to predict the number of games a team should win in a season, the expected influence of trades and whether it is worthwhile to wager on a game, among other applications.
Bukiet considered all players who placed in the top five in their league in at least one of the categories: hits, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, batting average and slugging percentage for hitters; wins, saves, earned run average, walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) and batting average against (for pitchers).
This is the seventh year that Bukiet has used his model to determine whether it is worthwhile to wager on games each day during the baseball season. His picks (posted on www.egrandslam.com) have led to (slightly) positive results for five of the six past years, while the results are marginally negative so far this season. Regular updates on the chances of each team winning the Division Series, the Championship Series and the World Series will be posted at m.njit.edu/~bukiet.
Bukiet is an associate professor of mathematics at NJIT who focuses on the mathematical modeling of physical phenomena. Current interests include biomedical applications of mathematics, including stresses in the heart and modeling the dynamics of flow in the human lung. He also works in the application of mathematical modeling for sports and gambling, in particular for understanding baseball. His publications include "Mechanical Properties of Diseased Hearts in Adaptation," Journal of Mechanics in Medicine and Biology, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Apr. 2002). Bukiet recently received the NJIT Excellence in Teaching Award for Outstanding Work. Bukiet received his PhD in mathematics from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.
For more details, contact Bukiet 973-596-8392 or firstname.lastname@example.org.