Analytics supporters want to remove all human emotion and pretend that sports are played by robots in a vacuum.
Former players believe sabermetricians are still bitter from being cut at the 7th grade tryout and devoted their life to prove they should have made the team through the use of numbers.
Of course, those are the extremes abut the gulf between each side is extremely vast. A former player will believe in chemistry, protection and clutch. Analytics guys are dead set to prove that none of those exist.
Kevin Towers says the Diamondbacks are using analytics but they don’t need to trumpet their use or be a slave to it. A sabermetrician would argue that Towers can’t possibly be using analytics correctly because the trades engineered by the Diamondbacks can’t be justified through the filter of analytics.
Keith Law said there is no war going on between the analytics departments and the old-school way of thinking. I think he’s right as long as the analytics side feels they’re being listened to. The proof is in how the Diamondbacks are perceived by sabermetricians and how strongly they are opposed to the “Diamondback way.”
I think the only way to settle the debate is for both sides to give in on sacred cows that each hold dear. I’ll offer trades, not of players, but of fundamental issues that each side must give up in order to get their way on something else. If you believe in the old-school, Miguel Montero is the ball and chain on the entire Diamondbacks offense and must be traded.
TRADE: Closers for Protection
The analytics side must give up the idea that your best reliever needs to come in to get out of a jam in the 7th inning because that’s harder to do than simply get three outs in the 9th. This idea completely eliminates the human element of preparedness. A bullpen of human beings like to have surprises eliminated. A tough lefty likes to know when the opponent’s lefty hits in the order so he’s thinking along with the manager of when he might go into the game. Now, he can work with the bullpen coach to warm up in accordance with the plan he’s about to execute.
The sabermetrician completely ignores the effect pressure has on human beings. It’s harder to get the last three outs of the game because the reliever has a fear of failure hanging over him. No matter what happens in the seventh, the offense can still win the game and bailout a reliever. If a closer chokes, the game ends. That’s pressure and not everyone is equipped to handle pressure. Example: Chad Qualls, a great 8th inning pitcher and a disaster as a closer.
Old-school must accept that the stats show protection doesn’t exist. It’s simple, a pitcher is nervous to face Paul Goldschmidt so he throws him nothing to hit and takes his chances with the cleanup hitter. With protection, the belief is a pitcher is now more inclined to challenge Goldschmidt due to his desire to avoid pitching to the on deck hitter with Goldschmidt on base. It sounds so logical, but it’s time to let it die.
Getting Goldschmidt out is still determined by a pitcher’s ability to execute a game plan to exploit his weaknesses. The man standing on deck does not affect that ability. From Goldschmidt’s perspective, how much better do you think a potential MVP is going to do just because a scary man bats next? Right now, Goldschmidt is batting 52 points higher when Martin Prado is behind him versus Montero. If you believe in protection, that means pitchers are so fearful of a .267 hitting Prado that they give Goldschmidt better pitches to hit versus facing Goldschmidt when he bats ahead of the .261 hitting Montero. If you believe in protection, explain how .006 difference in batting average for Prado and Montero translates to Goldschmidt batting .328 instead of .276.
Goldschmidt bats 1.000 hitting ahead of Ender Inciarte, .750 with Cody Ross, the aforementioned Prado drops Goldschmidt to .328, Eric Chavez has helped Goldschmidt to a .307 clip, Goldy gets a hit on 30 percent of his at-bats when Aaron Hill is in the cleanup spot and Montero embarrasses the entire organization by only lifting Goldy to .276. Arizona will be forced to cut Pennington because Goldschmidt is 0-for-1 when Cliff is standing on deck.
I’m sorry, but you can’t get me to believe a range of hitters batting between Inciarte’s .163 and Prado’s .267 does a thing to Goldschmidt’s ability to get a hit or the pitcher’s ability to get him out. I believed in protection, but there’s too many examples of a hitter’s performance staying consistent no matter who batted behind him. In the case of Goldy, there is a big difference between Prado and Montero but I think we’re safe in saying Prado isn’t scaring anyone.
Since protection does not exist, Montero stays.
Tomorrow: Clutch vs. Chemistry