Has Analytics Ruined Baseball?

Glenn Kaplan

Analytics has been used a lot in baseball over the past few years. The game of baseball is changing because of it and it may not be for the better. Over analyzing things might make the game more complicated than it is actually is.

For example, what is first baseman/outfielder Rhys Hoskins doing in the lead off spot for the Philadelphia Phillies in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night? That has analytics written all over it. No way a guy who drives in runs and hits homers often should be batting leadoff.

Hoskins isn’t a speed guy either. Speed guys are usually lead off hitters and they also have to usually have a good-on base percentage.

Are you going to tell me teams like the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals, 2009 New York Yankees, or the 2014 San Francisco Giants used analytics? There isn’t a chance that happened because Tony La Rusa managed the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 and he was an old schooled manager.

The Yankees were loaded as it was and Joe Giradi was also an old school guy then. He has also had everyone batting where they needed to.

In Game 7 of the World Series in 2014, are you going to try to convince me that putting starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner into the game in a relief appearance was an analytical move? If that’s the case, then I don’t know what the sport of baseball is anymore.

Manager Bruce Bochy did what he was supposed to in a big game. Go with your best ace at some point and let the thing ride itself out. Teams don’t even do it that much anymore. Instead of managers letting their aces sometimes go to distance, they have to go to the bullpen because it is analytically correct.

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For example, let’s say Jacob deGrom is in the sixth-inning for the New York Mets and he is cruising but deGrom is at 85 pitches and the lineup is about to come around for a third time, the manager will most likely yank him for a reliever because according to analytics, it is probably the right thing to do even though it is not.

What has also ruined the game is that it might be fun for fans to watch home runs all the time, but that is what teams are look for now instead of playing small ball a lot. Bunting and getting singles and doubles is also important in baseball, not just the home run ball.

Scouts want to see how hard batters hit the ball of the bat now a days and also see how far the baseballs go.

Another example of analytics going over board is when Milwaukee Brewers Manager Craig Counsell started a bullpen pitcher for one batter in a playoff game last season and then go with the actual starting pitcher.

The Oakland Athletics also started a reliever in the postseason last season against the New York Yankees and that did not bode well for them.

It is good to use analytics for certain things, but it should not take over the game entirely. The game should be played with smarts and understanding what the situation is rather than analyzing things on a play-by-play basis.

Teams also like to use relievers for just one or two batters instead of letting them pitch an inning or two now. Mid relievers used to pitching to more batters a while back as well. Analytics will only continue to grow and the general managers and the owners love it now a days and there are some managers that don’t like using it and they are forced to use it.

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