Written by RJ Nealon
- ECGulls.com Contributor
HARBOR HAWKS PODCAST W/ NICHOLAS FICHTNER
BEVERLY, Mass. – During the school year, you'll find him in Beverly, Massachusetts on the campus of Endicott College, sometimes around the baseball program, but mostly going to class, studying, and hanging out with friends. However, during this past summer, you would have found him down in Cape Cod. Nicholas Fichtner was a summer intern for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL). The Harbor Hawks finished the 2018 summer league season with a 24-17 record. While there, Fichtner focused on baseball analytics.
"I choose Endicott College for a couple of different things. One: how small it was," Fichtner said about attending Endicott College. "I definitely prefer a smaller campus over a larger university. I did three, four or five school tours and Endicott was a beautiful campus. Two: It's a nice part of Massachusetts. Three: There's a sense of community, and that is one of the building blocks of the school. Those factors were big for me aside from the education. I switched majors before, and the school encourages you to try new things to see what you like."
When Fichtner started school, he started out as a double major but eventually landed on finance as his major and applied mathematics as a minor. Both disciplines will be vital in progressing his career in baseball analytics.
"Now, my studies are a little more concentrated on the economics and the money piece. I am sticking with the math theme," Fichtner said. "Along with my studies, I believe being a Resident Assistant will also help me in my career path as well. Being able to communicate what we are trying to achieve through baseball analytics to different groups of people, who have different ways of thinking, and find solutions to a wide array of problems is key in this field."
UNDERSTANDING THE GAME, ANALYTICALLY, OF COURSE
In baseball, numbers are everything, for pitchers, it's all about their pitch count, while for batters, it's about their batting average and where they are hitting in the lineup. For the Harbor Hawks, Fichtner was the "guy" to bring the numbers game altogether and have it make sense. As the game of baseball evolves analytically, so do the approaches teams take to heighten their overall success.
Throughout the summer, Fichtner used a new statistical approach called GPA (Gross Production Average) to help the Harbor Hawks to better understand how their lineups were put together. As time went on, with the numbers and stats accumulating, Fitchtner gathered the data and tossed around multiple batting orders to the coaches for them to utilize based on the GPA statistical approach. That approach goes like this: The top 1-3 hitters are at the top of the lineup because they see the most pitches. The 1-3 hitters are then followed by your best three hitters in the 4-6 spots in the lineup. Those hitters can do the most damage, especially with batters on base. Lastly, the other hitters at the bottom of the order (7-9 slots) possess a combination of those two previously mentioned skill sets.
Along with doing in-game analysis on the pitching staff, Fichtner worked side-by-side with the general manager and president of the team to sign seven players for the playoff push. He also found himself learning about the trade skill of scouting, an essential part of a team's success.
As he worked with other college students from around the nation including Arizona State, and others who came from Chicago, Cleveland and Georgia, he expressed that the experience was cool, engaging, and fulfilling. He was in a position where he was constantly learning and networking, and he made the most out of his experience.
"The Harbor Hawks manager [Chad Gassman] was really open about working with analytics, and is the type of person that really cares about his players," Fichtner said. "When you have guys that are willing to listen and work with you that is so important in any internship."
The same can be said for how Fichtner landed his internship in the first place.
Shawn Medeiros is Endicott College's Sports Information Director, and even though Fichtner doesn't work directly in the office, he still has had a positive impact on Fichtner and his analytical work.
After meeting with Fichtner about his interest in baseball analytics almost a year ago or so now, Medeiros steered Fichtner into working with the Endicott baseball program. From there, Endicott head coach Bryan Haley recommended that Fichtner should intern with a team in the CCBL. From there, Fichtner contacted every CCCBL team about a possible internship involving analytics. Through those connections and some hard work, Fichtner was able to land the perfect summer internship with the Harbor Hawks.
"Nick's role is different in comparison to our traditional work-study students in that he doesn't have a specific role or job function in our office. More or less, Nick and I meet every few weeks and discuss his career path, internships, classes, etc. and through those conversations, we find ways to progress his career," said Medeiros. "This relationship, as a whole, started because Nick thought he could work in baseball analytics through my office, but keeping traditional stats on gamedays was not exactly what he wanted to do. From that conversation, I helped guide him—along with our athletic director—to Coach Haley, and his relationship within my office, the baseball program, and our athletic director has continued to grow since then," Medeiros said.
Fast forward back to his internship experience, Fichtner was certainly grateful of all that he learned while down in Hyannis. Here's how he summed up his experience.
"Living on your own and just being an adult really is how I'd put it. It was an all-around experience, with baseball, encompassing life, encompassing adulthood and the future is what I would say the experience was like," Fichtner said.
As the summer ended, even before Fichtner returned to school in Beverly and rejoined the Endicott baseball team—where he is the Student Statistical Analyst—he has already been invited back to the Hyannis Harbor Hawks next summer to join the team on the Cape for another go at being an intern.
Sounds like the internship was worth it, Nick Fichtner.
ENDICOTT'S FOUR-YEAR INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
Endicott's unique four-year internship program makes it possible for students to graduate with a resume and a degree. Graduates will leave with an excellent educational foundation, substantial career experience, and a clear pathway for the future. In fact, more than 99 percent of our graduates report being employed or attending graduate school within one year of graduation.