The analyzes conquered the world of baseball. Depending on who you ask, you will get one of the following three answers:
- What is analytics? Isn’t this the capital of Maryland?
- It’s awesome! We always have to look for ways to improve the game and make teams and players better!
- This is terrible! We don’t need fancy mathematicians to tell us who is good or bad at baseball (or football).
Well, the Tampa Bay Rays are proving group three wrong.
Over the past half-decade, the Tampa Bay Rays have slowly infiltrated the realm of elite baseball clubs. Since 2017, despite playing in baseball‘s toughest division, the Rays have never finished worse than third in their division, consistently increasing their winning percentage and doing so while being the last five in the league payroll. This period of constant improvement over the years shouldn’t happen in Major League Baseball unless there is extraordinary luck. No team as poor as the Rays should be able to keep their top contributors for several years unless they have tons of players in their farming systems ready to take their place. However, having so many capable players on hold in the minor leagues would take years and insane luck to continue winning at the major league level … or, and listen to me, maybe the Rays are only a few lengths down. ahead of the rest of the league.
The Rays were one of the first Major League Baseball teams to try your luck with analytics. They are by far the most analytically advanced team in Major League Baseball. They used analytics not only as a tool to trade for effective players that they can use in the future, but also as a development tool for those players to ensure that they become as good as possible before they go. ‘reach the level of the Major League, and the results of this experiment were crazy.
Every level of Rays baseball has been successful in 2021. All five of the Minor League’s national affiliates (Durham Bulls, Montgomery Biscuits, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Charleston RiverDogs, FCL Rays) have achieved championship at their level. Four of them won the championship, and the one that didn’t, the Montgomery Biscuits, came in a victory race. It’s an absurdly well-run organization, and in a sport where wealthy teams continue to dominate year after year, it’s amazing to see a team take down the mammoths of the sport just by looking at data that no one else is. wants to.
Obviously, baseball has its elitism issues. Alumni love to sit in a corner and explain that you don’t need advanced metrics or weighted stats to determine who is the best player for your team. They will talk about the good old days when “nerds” had not returned to the sport.
Well guess what? Money is still king, but knowledge seems to be almost a second these days. Of course, there are still teams, managers and players who live by their old ways and succeed. There are also times when the scans came back to bite teams in the butt, like when Rays manager Kevin Cash withdrew Blake Snell from Game 6 World Series 2020 because that’s what the data told him to do, but you forget he made it to the World Series anyway with one of the lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball. His team had the second-best record in the league, and you want to take him down because of a bad decision? These are inevitable!
There are also cases where managers improve their teams after adopting the idea of ââanalytics. Look no further than Gabe Kapler, manager of the San Francisco Giants and likely recipient of the 2021 NL Manager of the Year award. In 2019, Kapler, then manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, hated using scan. He hated using computer data to lead a team and thought it was detrimental to the game. Kapler disappointed as the manager of the Phillies and, in his two years at the helm of the clubhouse, was never able to bring the Phillies above 0.500. Then he goes to the Giants, and like the plot of a Hallmark movie, learns the error of his ways, succumbs to the world of analytics, and stunned the baseball world two years in a row. First of all, in 2020, when its Giants were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league, yet they remained in the playoff race until the very last day of the season. Then, in 2021, as his Giants continue to stay at the top of the MLB standings, ahead of powers like Los Angeles and Houston.
It’s easy to see where the baseball world is headed if you just take a look. Teams that continue to play by the old rules will be left in the dust by a team spending a quarter of what they do. The Rays are the most comprehensive organization in baseball. They’ve established themselves as a dominant force for years, and they’ve done so by moving away from traditional baseball values. Checkmate, old man. Your time is up.