From Peter Gammons:
Years ago, managers just snubbed their noses at sabermetrics. Now, it’s mostly media members and former players who reject such studies. Not managers.
Washington’s Manny Acta will lay an occasional “VORP” on you, and Brewers manager Ken Macha was so intrigued by “The Fielding Bible,” compiled by John Dewan and Bill James, that he copied sections and gave them to players. He wanted the players to understand the relationship of bases and outs to runs, and how outfielders cutting balls off and hitting relay men and how baserunners’ aggression and hustle add up at the end of the year. So add the Brew Crew to the list of teams using sabermetrics.
I was thinking about this very thing when the Yankees flipped Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon earlier this week. The company line was that the Yankees liked the lefty-batting Damon’s ability to move the runner over, and therefore decided to make the switch. However, there are multiple statistical reasons to flip Jeter and Damon, and I am fairly confident that Joe Girardi considered factors such as contact rate and GB% when making his decision. The Yankees hired Joe because he was a student of the new type of thinking that the Yankees wanted to employ, and we have slowly begun to see the results of that mindset. Although this is a minor move, it is very encouraging, as it is representative of progressive thinking in the Yankees organization. Teams like the Red Sox, Indians, and A’s have been exploiting market inefficiencies for a few years by utilizing statistical analysis to discover undervalued skills. It is good to see the Yankees getting in on the party.