Bock’s Score: Apparently Analytics Are The Way Of Now

Maybe I’ve been wrong all along. Maybe my old school approach to baseball is outdated like dinosauers and fossils. Maybe analytics is the solution to the mysteries of the greatest sport ever invented.

Certainly the proprietors of the sport seem to think so. Consider the wave of managerial hirings this offseason. Gabe Kapler with the Philadelphia Phillies, Alex Cora with the Boston Red Sox, Dave Martinez with the Washington Nationals, Aaron Boone with the New York Yankees, and Mickey (not Cab) Calloway with the New York Mets have one thing in common. They all come to their new jobs with no previous big league managerial experience.

No experience was necessary to get hired because each of them convinced management that they are all-in with analytics, baseball by mathematical formula.

Let’s hear it for Sabermetrics. Forget about hits, runs and errors. Earned run averages are old fashioned, outdated, ancient stuff. The analytics crowd is invested in a brave new world of baseball statistics. It is the wave of the future. Get on board, son.

You think we’re kidding. Look what has happened to old, fuddy duddy managers since the season ended.

Joe Girardi managed the Yankees for 10 years and his teams won 200 games more than they lost and came within one game of the World Series last season. He was not invited back.

Dusty Baker managed the Nationals for two years and finished in first place both times. He was not invited back.

Terry Collins was the longest serving manager in New York Mets history and took them to their first World Series in 15 years. He was not invited back.

John Farrell took the Red Sox to division championships in three of the five years he managed them. He was not invited back.

Somewhere Hall of Fame managers like Whitey Herzog and Bobby Cox, Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson are shaking their heads in wonderment. Success was secondary for the current crop of old school managers. Baseball is in the business of progress. It is a brave new world and I am signing on. The new hires said they would relate to their players, care about their players, love their players. That stuff makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over.

Then there are the formulas. Dump batting averages and home runs. Give me some good new fashioned exit velocity of home runs and wins above replacements. Let’s trash old fashioned defensive positions. Shifts are the wave of the future and if some enterprising hitters decide to drop down a bunt where the third baseman used to be, well, that’s baseball.

And with analytics you get all these neat computer printouts with holes on both sides of the paper. They provide vital information like your starting third baseman bats 10 points higher on cloudy Thursdays than he does on sunny ones. That helps with making out the lineups.

How about all the fancy abbreviations like WAR and WHIP? They make the game sound so much more technical. You don’t have to have a Ph.D in mathematics to understand the new baseball, but it wouldn’t hurt.

 So I’m done with the traditional game. Give me the fancy new version. I have decided to go modern. My calculator is ready. My Sabermetrics dictionary is ready. I am ready.

Well, truth be told, now that I think about it, maybe not.

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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