First it was professional sports gambler. Now it’s “Jeopardy!” champion who ruined the game. Soon it could be MLB executive.
James Holzhauer is destroying the “Jeopardy!” board on a weekly basis, accruing $1,691,008 over 22 consecutive wins. He’s the second-longest running champion with more to build on when the show returns May 20 after its tournament weeks.
Holzhauer, 34, had dreams of working in an MLB front office when he was young and when he made this known last week, at least one team showed anonymous interest in his services.
‘Absolutely, yes’ Holzhauer could jump to MLB
Holzhauer’s ties to the sporting world have been covered since his first spot on the show, which has seen a ratings bump during his run. His baseball aspirations have also cropped up in articles, including a piece Wednesday by the Washington Post asking if teams would actually hire him.
The answers were simple.
Billy Beane, Oakland A’s executive vice president of baseball operations and man of “Moneyball” fame, told the Washington Post:
“My first thought when I saw him was: We have to get this guy in baseball.”
Red Sox president and chief executive officer Sam Kennedy:
“Absolutely, yes. We put a huge premium on analytical abilities both on the baseball side and business side. Without question, when we interview young professionals coming out of college, that skill set is hugely important.”
Orioles vice president and assistant general manager Sig Mejdal:
“Absolutely. He’s very intriguing. ... [But] It looks like his days are still pretty busy.”
Holzhauer’s aggressive style on the show holds an analytical lens: how does one maximize winnings? He jumps around the board, builds a cushion with higher-valued clues and uses probability to find the Daily Doubles. He then bets large on them, usually making it a “true” Daily Double.
Why Holzhauer could be a good fit?
The sign of the times: sports and analytics are so intertwined, there’s a conference to celebrate it. We’re no longer in the days of Beane and the A’s looking crazy; We’re in the days of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
The Oakland Raiders are suddenly being lauded for trading Khalil Mack thanks to analytics and the Houston Rockets are attempting to turn their analytical work into an overthrow of the NBA’s reigning champion Golden State Warriors.
Being an outsider as well as someone with experience in the “prediction business — something Holzhauer possess from his gambling profession — provides benefits.
Mejdal is a former NASA engineer who organized the Houston Astros analytics department from its inception. He’s also worked for the St. Louis Cardinals. He told the Washington Post he sees similarities between himself, Holzhauer and “many successful analysts and decision-makers in baseball.”
“I see a similarity in how we think. Of all the analysts we’ve hired in St. Louis, Houston and Baltimore, none have come from the baseball industry. They’ve all been from outside. They may have been involved in baseball research as a hobby, but it wasn’t their primary occupation. What there was, was a passion for the sport.”
No team has made an offer to Holzhauer and per the Post, no team has gone on the record to give “real interest” in hiring him. Beane thinks he’ll be able to get a job wherever he wants in whatever trade he wants after his “Jeopardy!” run and that could always include any team in the MLB.
Or any other sports team looking for that extra mind.
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