Finding a Numbers Guy

Amaro Talks Werth, Getting Old and MoreRuben Amaro Jr. grabbed the attention of Phillies fans last month when he mentioned the team planned to hire an analytics person to help with player evaluation.

Sabermetrics had not interested the Phillies in the past, but Amaro said they “owe it to ourselves to look at some other ways to evaluate.”

Amaro said recently they are getting close to hiring somebody.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting more information,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to change the way we do business, necessarily. We still plan to be a scouting and player development organization, but I think it’s important to get all the information and analyze not just what we’re doing but how other clubs are evaluating players when we talk about possible trades and other sorts of things.”

The Phillies have been working with the Commissioner’s Office during their search. Major League Baseball’s Labor Relations Department works closely with teams and has helped make personnel recommendations in the past. The LRD also has developed resources for baseball operations staffs, including former employees like Pirates president Frank Coonelly and a number of assistant general managers.

Asked if he looked back at recent personnel decisions and wondered if analytics would have helped steer him toward or away from particular players, Amaro said, “Not specifically, no. Again, we believe in our scouts and the things that they recommend. We’re not going to be 100 percent right all the time. But we want to be more right than wrong. We just have to do a better job of targeting the right guys.”

How much the Phillies use analytics or value the new hire’s findings remains to be seen. But there will be plenty of information to consider.

As an example, when the Phillies signed Delmon Young to a one-year, $750,000 deal in January, they mentioned he had 74 RBIs in 2012 hitting behind Tigers sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the implication being Young “produced” and would have had more RBIs had Cabrera and Fielder not taken RBI opportunities from him. But if they had examined the numbers more closely they would have discovered Young actually ranked 20th in baseball in 2012 with 415 runners on base when he came to the plate. He knocked in just 13.5 percent of those runners, which ranked 96th out of 135 qualifying players.

In other words, he had a ton of RBI opportunities in 2012, even with Cabrera and Fielder in the lineup, but did a poor job knocking them in.

That is just one small example of how numbers can help. Maybe regardless of those numbers — including Young’s low on-base percentage (21 points lower than the average outfielder from 2006-12) and OPS (29 points lower than the average outfielder from 2006-12) the Phillies sign Young anyway because it was a low-risk deal. Or maybe they say, “Hey, the odds are against Young helping us like we need him to help us,” and they look in a different direction.

Will they delve deeply into Roy Halladay‘s numbers this offseason? Doc’s 5.15 ERA the past two seasons ranks 161st out of 169 qualifying pitchers in baseball. Fangraphs.com found pitchers over 35 — Halladay turns 37 in May — who went on the DL for any sort of shoulder injury only averaged 59 innings the rest of their career. Halladay pitched 27 2/3 innings following right shoulder surgery in May. Do the Phillies consider those numbers and pass? Or do they believe Halladay’s reputation as a “gamer” and hard worker is enough to beat the odds?

It will be interesting to find out.

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Random things from the past week:

  • I’ve plenty on Twitter today about Domonic Brown wearing a Cowboys jersey at yesterday’s game at the Linc. (Gasp!) I think what’s funny is absolutely nobody noticed Mike Adams standing over his right shoulder.
  • Everybody has seen the photo of Bryan Cranston wearing a Phillies jersey during an outtake of Breaking Bad. Once the photo hit Twitter word quickly spread (with plenty of Philly-based news organizations picking it up) that Cranston wore the jersey because he is a Phillies fan. Of course, a simple Google search showed Cranston is a diehard Dodgers fan. I contacted AMC publicity about the photo. Its response: “The shot was taken during the World Series of 2009 (Yankees vs. Phillies). Bryan is definitely a Dodgers fan, but I believe he was rooting for the Phillies in that series. As a gag, (while shooting ep #307 “One Minute”) he did a take with the jersey on.”
  • A report the Phillies resigned Michael Martinez is not true.
  • Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported the Phillies will interview bullpen coach Reid Cornelius for their pitching coach vacancy. Former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee interviews tomorrow with the Orioles.

17 Comments

What Rube really should have said: “We’re HAVE NOT BEEN 100 percent right all the time”. Worst scouting and talent evaluators in the major leagues.

You got that right, Jimmymack! And they all got promoted….. go figure….

I hope this is not true, but I have heard from a good source that they have offered the role to Ed Wade and an Assistant Director of Analytics position to Michael Martinez.

The Phillies are always trailing edge on everything, so I suspect they’ll get some sabrmetrician, but won’t really understand what he’s saying. Doofus Amaro & His Luddites will continue their oldies tour and go dumpster diving again this off-season.

i have read some bull shoot articles during my lifetime but this has to be the cream of the crop. an analyst who can evaluate talent by administering algebra. so rubin is saying he would never had signed wells, mcdonald, adams, lannan, and the one and only delmon young, who by the way did start for tampa during the playoffs. the first thing the phillies need to do to win more than 73 games next season is simple. STEP NUMBER ONE; AMARO EITHER RESIGNS OR GETS FIRED.

I’m with you on this one Doc!

Statistician or not, a General Manager of a National League team has no business signing an injury-plagued DH. For two consecutive years.

Factor in the crippling contracts (especially Howard, Ibanez, Papelbon) and his failures really start to outweigh his successes.

They are so far behind the times it’s ridiculous. The Red Sox have had Bill James since about 2000 & then Theo came as GM. What a horrible organization this has become.

he meant to say they have a 100% track record of being wrong. Can anyone name one signing he made that worked out for the entire length of the contract? Ibanez had 1/2 a great year, Howard had 3 good seasons BEFORE RAJ resigned him, Rollins-enough said, etc, etc.

The one and only acquisition that would have worked out was the first acquisition of Cliff Lee. Of course any credit earned by Ruin in this regard was dissipated by the drama surrounding Lee’s subsequent trade and resigning as a free agent.

This is going to be like watching my grandfather try to program a VCR…………

“We still plan to be a scouting and player development organization”

Coming from an organization that has done a deplorable job scouting and developing players, for like, the last CENTURY, this comment made me throw up on myself.

Why is this organization always generations behind the rest of the league in every new manner of thinking? Black players, Latin players, Asian players (which they still hate), advanced statistical analysis, etc.

I almost expect Ruben to start championing the four-man rotation, and throwing pitch counts out the window and allowing starters to pitch nine innings every night.

Hiring a numbers guy? why not a brain surgeon? opps no brain to operate on in the Phils front office.

What SABERmetrics expert would work for a guy who wouldn’t take him seriously? There is no way that Ruben is not just throwing a bone to the complaining phanbase by hiring a “numbers expert”. He has no intention of changing the way he makes decisions and therefore the only way to improve the Phils fortune is to get rid of the moron….

The only numbers guys that Ruben takes seriously are the team accountants……

Nobody noticed Mike Adams in the Dom Brown picture? Not surprising. Didn’t notice him much on the field either.

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