The Washington Nationals have won the World Series because they didn’t rely solely on Baseball Analytics and that’s a fact.
Late Wednesday night, Zack Grienke was taking a one hitter deep into the late innings. His crafty, timely pitching was fooling Nationals hitters all night and the away team didn’t have an answer. Furthermore, his top-notch fielding showed up big and proved why he has five Gold Gloves. However in the seventh inning, the Nationals started to get to him a little bit. A solo shot by Rendon and a walk immediately after had A.J Hinch out of the dugout quickly due to analytics. The nerds upstairs told him that statistically the third time around in the order is much riskier to the pitcher because the batters have them figured out statistically. This move by Hinch wasn’t unusual at all and quite frankly that’s alarming. My reasoning for this is due to the fact that by the eye test Grienke was still sharp. His pitch count was fine and he had only let up 1 run and 2 hits. 10 years ago the manger would let him figure things out because of the Pitchers hot hand and he was still commanding by the eye test. However, because of modern analytics, a culture of impatient, impersonal, and blatantly ignorant decision making has been created.
Another example of this in last nights game is the decision not to put in Gerrit Cole after Grienke. Anyone who has watched Gerrit Cole this year knows he has been virtually unhittable. With Gerrit Cole available and warming, the logical move would have been to put in the hot hand of the league’s best pitcher. In the World Series, the mentality should be “any means necessary”, but unfortunately the nerds have such a tight grip on certain teams that the manager is practically useless in decision making. In my opinion, the guys upstairs did not use Cole because of righty lefty matchups and pitch count. It’s easy to second guess these decisions now, however when your watching the game and Joe Buck is asking when Gerrit Cole is gonna go in, I think it’s universally common sense.
The Washington Nationals use baseball analytics, however they won this series because they knew when human judgment was key to success, specifically by using starting pitcher Partick Corbin for three straight innings. Corbin was unbelievable Wednesday night, and for Washington Manager Dave Martinez to leave him in, further proved his knack for the spotlight. I believe upstairs management told Martinez that crucial decisions are to be made by his Judgement and specifically his gut in the big moment. Another example of this is starting pitcher Max Scherzer, who two days before, was in so much pain that he couldn’t stand up. If it were up to the nerds upstairs, there’s no way he starts that game. However Scherzer showed guts and perseverance and pitched the ballsiest game of his life.
The Nationals last night used three starting pitchers. I’m not saying that this is the model to follow, but when you have the second worst bullpen in baseball and your starters are hot, a human judgment decision must be made.
Kudos to the oldest team in baseball for winning it all. They proved naysayers wrong all year. Three times in this years playoffs they were behind in elimination games and three times they came back to win. That’s not analytics, that’s guts and human judgement. This team was veteran led and experienced and had great team camaraderie. These are things that nerds upstairs cannot create. The reality of the matter is the Houston Astros got distracted by these computer analytics because they were clearly the more talented team.
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Photo Credit: New York Post, ABC Houston