Advanced analytics are difficult. Is that why so many fans dismiss them?
Managerial decisions are far easier. Is that why everyone loses their mind when something different happens?
The baseball world is now readily familiar with Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash and his decision to pull starting pitcher Blake Snell in World Series Game 6. Snell had struck out nine of 18 batters faced, and was promptly removed prior to seeing Dodgers leadoff hitter Mookie Betts a third time. Baseball fans were left wondering if the Rays’ analytical presence prompted the move.
Snell pitched one out in the sixth inning. With Snell removed, the Dodgers scored two before the Rays could finish the frame. The Dodgers only needed those two runs to seal their first championship since 1988.
How soon we remember Cash’s decision in 2020, and how quick we forget New York Mets manager Terry Collins five years ago.
In 2015 World Series Game 5, Mets starter Matt Harvey was cruising through eight shutout frames. Collins would then decide to go to the bullpen, but Harvey repeatedly told him “No way.” Collins sent Harvey back out to finish it off.
Harvey did not finish it off. Kansas City scored two in the ninth, tied the game, and won a championship that night. Instead of Harvey being revered as a New York hero, his disappointed face covered the New York Post along with the words “Amazin’ Disgrace.”
How would you rather fail as a manager? Would you trust data sets or trust a hunch?
Better yet: How would you rather fail as an employee in literally any profession? Would you follow advanced protocols or simply fail because of how you thought things should go?
The simple reality of baseball managing is that there is little room for innovation compared to other sports. Football can implement the wildcat formation. Basketball can introduce the triangle offense. Baseball can... bat a pitcher eighth?
In order to make the managing call on the big stage, you must first make a long-term analytical one to get you there. The executives for the 2012 Tampa Bay Rays—now reassigned in Tampa, Los Angeles, Boston and Houston—have proven this with seven of the past eight pennants.
It really is fun to see people praising the Andrew Friedman-run team that used their starter for 1.2 innings as "Good old-fashioned baseball with none of those nasty analytics!"— Andrew Bucholtz (@AndrewBucholtz) October 28, 2020
The Rockies’ conversation is less on the managerial decisions and more on how they can earn a seat at the analytical table. With teams keeping their data proprietary (for inherent purposes), a casual fan can’t see how comprehensive their team analytical model is. Casual fans can identify, however, that a few teams are at the forefront—and some aren’t.
★ ★ ★
In Friday’s Rockpile, Joelle Milholm analyzed Dick Monfort’s recent email to season ticket holders. Nick Groke of The Athletic talks about some further ‘hints’ by Monfort, and describes his emailed letter as “imploring those fans to retain hope and continue buying tickets.”
Groke puts the past month of franchise action in a direct manner: “[The Rockies] chose not to answer where their plan went wrong and how they plan to fix it.”
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com discusses the 22 pitchers, five catchers, eight infielders and five outfielders that are participating in the Rockies’ instructional league action. Featured players include 2018 fourth-rounder Ryan Feltner, 2018 second-rounder Aaron Schunk, and 2020 first-rounder Zac Veen, among others.
(It’s fun to read some optimistic Rockies news.)
Neither AJ Hinch nor Tony La Russa will be managing against the Rockies in 2021.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!