Editor’s Note: Domer Diaries is the newest storytelling series from the Alumni Association where members of the Notre Dame family tell their stories in their own words. This week’s Domer Diaries entry comes from Pat McFarlane '14, Assistant Director for Quantitative Analysis for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Name: Pat McFarlane
Class Year: 2014
Residence Hall: Stanford Hall
Major: BS in Aerospace Engineering
Student Activities: Bengal Bouts, Irish Rover, Bookstore Basketball, Stanford Hall Baseball
Local Notre Dame club: Philadelphia
Share a short update about yourself and your life changes since graduating.
After Notre Dame, I went on to continue my aerospace engineering studies at MIT and earned my Master’s degree in 2016. After graduation, I bounced around to a few different industries, including aviation safety, finance, and consulting. However, in graduate school, I developed a passion for exploring sports data with my budding data science skills and I couldn’t quite shake that interest. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a job posting to join the Research & Development department for the Philadelphia Phillies, my hometown team, and they somehow agreed to bring me on. I’ve been with the club for five seasons now, developing and applying predictive models to inform in-game strategy and tactics, player acquisition, and baseball decision-making. Throughout my journey since graduating from Notre Dame, I’ve lived in Boston, Washington DC, and Philadelphia — all great cities with a ton to offer, especially to recent college graduates.
What do you like most about your current role?
I’m currently the Assistant Director for Quantitative Analysis, so now I oversee a team of quantitative analysts trying to solve the game of baseball to the extent we can. I enjoy so much about my current role, from helping others develop and grow professionally, to doing all I can to bring a World Series championship to Philadelphia. However, what I like the most is the reward that comes from being able to work on a project or ad-hoc analysis and see the results play out on the field, in a trade discussion, or in the draft room. Also, being able to do that in service of the club I grew up rooting for is icing on the cake.
What was a formative moment in your time at Notre Dame that continues to influence you today?
Fortunately, so many formative moments stick out when I reflect on my time at Notre Dame. But one in particular comes to mind often. I had a conversation with one of my favorite professors, Professor Joseph Powers, about courses I planned to take in an upcoming semester. After listing off a few options for electives, Professor Powers told me, “Whenever you’re in doubt about what to study, always take more math classes.” I immediately followed that advice by enrolling in his graduate-level math class and I loved it. I continually doubled down on that advice in graduate school and throughout my professional career. I credit that piece of advice for helping me develop the probabilistic and statistical modeling skills that allowed me to get my foot in the door of the sports analytics industry. Thank you, Professor Powers!