You can read all about it in this new article from baseball writer Rany Jazayerli, formerly at Grantland and Baseball Prospectus. The Chicago-Cleveland World Series threw the final shovel of dirt on the debate about the primacy of analytics in designing a successful baseball team. Turns out, data is a fancy word for information and the key to winning baseball games now.
Here are a few highlights from Jazayerli’s piece, but go read the entire article.
The success of the Cubs and Cleveland show the analytics battle is over:
There is always more information to be had, and more information is always useful. The battle was never between the quants and the gut-instinct types, it was between the curious and the incurious. The curious have won. Like Japanese soldiers hiding in the mountains of the Philippines for 30 years after World War II, there will still be pockets of resistance for some time in the form of small-town columnists desperate to serve up clickbait with an anti-analytics screed. But make no mistake: The war is over.
Change in baseball is coming at us fast:
“And then there’s Arizona, where in 2014 Diamondbacks ownership got the bright idea of naming Tony La Russa, who had been a brilliant manager but was retired and had no experience running a team, chief baseball officer. They also let La Russa hire Dave Stewart as GM. His main qualifications for the job were that he (1) had been the ace of the La Russa A’s team that won the 1989 World Series and (2) had worked as a player agent after retiring. It took barely two years for La Russa and Stewart to prove that knowing how to build a winning team in 1989 is as useful today as an Apple IIe.”
The Cubs focused on drafting and developing hitters instead of pitchers:
The Cubs focused on drafting and developing hitters over pitchers because the data makes clear that young hitters are a much safer bet to develop: All you need to remember is that before the Cubs selected Bryant no. 2 overall in 2013, the Astros used the no. 1 pick on … Mark Appel. Along with nailing their draft picks for Bryant and Schwarber, they traded a pitcher (Andrew Cashner) for a hitter (Anthony Rizzo), and capped off the rebuilding process by trading a pair of starting pitchers (Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel) for a top shortstop prospect named Addison Russell.
Seriously, go read it all.