Trenton Times, August 9, 1997
Title: Caltech alumnus is on the ball
By: Tawana Skipper, Staff Writer
CHICAGO - Ari Kaplan, formerly of Pennington, recently took his place among the great contributing alumni at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif.
At a June 13 ceremony, Kaplan, son of Eva L. Kaplan of Pennington, was designated "Alumnus of the Decade" along with 19 other alumni who have contributed to society over the past 100 years. (Two alumni from each decade were selected for the award.)
"This is the first honor of its nature ever presented by Caltech," said Judy Amis, executive director of Caltech's Alumni Association.
Kaplan, like many baseball fans, concerns himself with statistics surrounding each player, but with a slight difference. He invents them.
"Over the years, especially during my time at Lawrence High School, I found inconsistencies in the way statistical information was formed about a baseball player's performance," said Kaplan, now a consultant to major-league baseball teams.
Following his freshman year at Caltech, he developed a more effective means of calculating a relief pitcher's performance. He developed the "Reliever's Effectiveness Ratio" during the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program.
Under the Reliever's Effectiveness Ratio, Kaplan divides the number of runners on base when the reliever enters the game and who scores, by the number of runners expected to score.
So intrigued by this yound student's presentation, Caltech truestee and then-owner of the Baltimore Orioles, Eli Jacobs, immediately hired Kaplan the following summer in 1990.
Kaplan's development proved more efficient than the traditional Earned Run Average, and changed the way baseball conducts business.
Throughout the years, following graduation from Caltech, he has worked full time for two other baseball teams, the San Diego Padres and the Montreal Expos, developing or upgrading their computer systems. His work enabled the managers and coaches to immediately access information on players for scouting and drafting purposes.
Today, this former member of the Lawrence High School baseball team, marching band and concert band, rations his time as a database designer for Oracle, the world's second-largest software company, and consultant to six major-league baseball teams.
Choosing this decade's two recipients was a huge task for Caltech alumni. Only two former students could be selected as representatives and recorded in Caltech's Centennial Publication.
Kaplan's honor ranks among such outstanding graduates as film director Frank Capra; Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling' and scientist Harrison Schmitt, the last man to walk on the moon.
Still, Kaplan feels he has yet to hit his home run.
"I'm pursuing a career as a manager of a major-league baseball team," he said.
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