Bret Boone: Would Mike Piazza have been overlooked in analytics era?


Baseball has seen plenty of changes in recent years. While the most notable ones this season are the pitch clock and new rule changes, analytics is still a polarizing topic among baseball fans.

The analytics movement started over 20 years ago with the Moneyball Athletics and has continued to evolve with new data available seemingly every year. However, there is an argument to be made that analytics are taking out some of the intangible factors.

MLBPA Senior Advisor Jerry Crasnick joined former MLB All-Star Bret Boone on "The Boone Podcast" and the two had a good discussion about analytics, including if an all-time great would’ve been passed over in the analytics era.

“I think the biggest thing, honestly, probably came with the analytics revolution,” Crasnick said (4:44 in player above). “Nowadays you have armies of quantitative analysts and people in front offices. I think it’s changed baseball in so many ways.”

Analytics have certainly changed how certain players are valued. That comes into play when acquiring, developing, and negotiating with players.

“The guy who was sort of the glue guy who was great in the clubhouse, I think they don’t really seem to value that anymore,” Crasnick continued. “To me, it’s kind of unfortunate because I think the relationships and the human element of the game have taken a hit with that. I hope it’s something we can get back.”

Boone broke into the league in 1992 with the Mariners and played his last major-league game in 2005 with the Twins. He would go on to announce his retirement in 2008 after a few minor-league stints.

The three-time All-Star entered the league when analytics were barely a thought, but he’s not stuck in those old ways.

“I’ve studied it a little bit, I think it would be ignorant for us as baseball players and major league baseball to just ‘Oh no, it’s better when I played,’” Boone said. “So I look at it, there can be a lot of positive in the analytics, but like you mentioned the intangibles. Are you going to miss a great player that doesn’t necessarily add up analytically? I think it’s a great training tool. I think it’s great for people to evaluate, especially at the amateur level.”

Boone mentioned that analytics can be good for determining what percentile a player falls in for certain things such as exit velocity or sprint speed, but it’s not the end all be all.

“I think it’s great for that but I still think there’s that rare spot where you can miss a diamond in the rough and not see a great player. And I don’t know if necessarily if analytics were around then that Mike Piazza would’ve been off the radar, but a guy like that that went in the 65th round became the all-time greatest offensive catcher in the history of the game,” he continued. “Do you miss a guy like that?”

Of course, the MLB Draft has been dramatically altered since Piazza was drafted with the last pick in 1988 – and he was drafted as a favor. However, even with a 20-round draft, it’s fair to speculate if some potential all-time greats are being ignored and passed over in favor of analytical darlings.

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