Analytics has become an ugly word for some people in sports, especially baseball. However, at the root of it, it’s all information and data that can be used – or not used – to help make decisions.
There are some players that may never live up to what the analytics say, and other players that go above and beyond what their perceived value is based on certain information. It’s important to use all of the information you have to optimize whatever situation you are in.
Minnesota Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey joined WEEI's Rob Bradford on "Baseball Isn't Boring" and explained how he uses both analytics and the eye test to evaluate players.
“Unfortunately, analytics sometimes has become this word that creates this certain reaction from everybody that ‘Oh, there’s too much data,’” Falvey said (22:09 in player above). “I equate it to this: when you are thinking about your retirement portfolio and you’re talking to your financial advisor, you want them to be evidence-led and have some instincts mixed in, but they better be looking at the data and thinking about how it’s going to match your risk profile and what you want to do long term.”
Whether it’s planning for retirement or something else in the short- or long-term, collecting information and using that is key. The same thing goes for MLB teams.
“It’s the same thing for us. When we look at a player, yeah, we have our eye evaluation and our subjective evaluation. We have experienced scouts and staff that are watching them and giving us feedback on what they think about that player,” Falvey continued. “We also want to know the underlying.”
Things like the spin rate of pitches and a batter’s swing characteristics are all something that Falvey uses to improve his ball club.
“All of that information, I’m charged with trying to figure out what are the right pieces, what can we bet on. And I think if you’re turning a blind eye to any source of information you’re not doing your job,” he said. “Our view is let’s take it all in, let’s sift through what really matters and what’s going to impact a player’s career, and in player development and scouting and at the major-league level we’re applying both sides of the subjective and objective as much as we can.”
Falvey joined the Twins front office after spending nearly a decade with Cleveland, including being named the assistant general manager prior to their run to the World Series in 2016.
Since then, the Twins have found some success in the regular season and Falvey has them on the right track this year with an 11-7 start through the first three weeks of the season.