#’s (That’s Numbers, Not Hashtag)

You know all those numbers and statistical acronyms I clobber you with from geeky sounding sites likes Fangraphs and Baseball Reference, well, the truth is they can be extremely valuable.

Hey nerdboy, to who?

Us for the sake of arguments, but also to Major League teams.

Before we move on, I need to repeat for the thousandth time, for as much as I love poring over oodles of helpful data, it’s not my sole bible for decision making, or questioning someone else’s decisions. For as much as Phil Coke got obliterated by righties all season, there’s no one, simple, accessible number that says “this guy has balls of steel, and no one’s touching him tonight.” That’s the instinctual and psychological evaluation a manager can make that no website or spreadsheet can provide to us, and it’s a vital part of decision making, in all sports, and life in general for that matter.

One more note before today’s ‘suggestion’ I have for the Tigers. In the beginning of the season we discussed what could or would be MLB’s next market inefficiency. I think it was SI’s Tom Verducci who coined the phrase pre-hab. The practice of making sure players stay healthy and strong all season, and hopefully having the body properly built so major injuries are altogether avoided. In other words, invest team resources in your training staff, as well as in strength and conditioning coaches and get the best medical staff you’re able to afford. The other potential trend or progression in MLB would be the utilization of iPads. Apple devices have long been used by players and coaches on plane trips and during other down times to analyze at bats and other typical baseball mechanics. But the next step is for that information or at least portions of it being available easily available on an iPad in the dugout. If not for a competitive advantage technically, perhaps just for speed for peering through copious amounts of information. Apps could be developed, by teams individually, or universally by MLB, that can be installed on the iPads, and instead of sifting through burdensome binders of info looking for information on a matchup, simply touch in ‘Valverde’ (if this was actually typed in, the device may explode) and ‘Thome’ and within tenths of seconds you get the batter/pitcher info you sought.

I’ll freely admit, it might take something like three years for stodgy MLB to allow, or at least actively encourage iPads in dugouts, but it’s coming. Some intrepid, progressive minded team will likely push the technology-in-the-dugout envelope forcing MLB to address the issue long before they’re ready. That’s how it goes with MLB.

However, just because coaches aren’t touching their way through tablets during a game doesn’t mean most teams all don’t have that information anyway. Actually any team that hasn’t loaded mounds of scouting data and stats on mobile devices for their players is possibly years behind the curve.

The PLANET is now, what, a decade or so into the age of information. There are those who pen articles saying that we’re actually dumber than ever because all we do is Google our way to geniusness. But information, it’s unavoidable. It’s ignored only by the ignorant. But, conversely, the data can also be misread and misused. Personal note, yes, much of what I come across these days, life, business, etc, seems to have lost it’s humanity in favor of ‘wellllllllll, the numbers say THIS.’ Ugh.

To my suggestion for the Tigers. Finally, 500 words later. They may have to dump a coach to do this, or get very creative with titles of people on Leyland’s staff, but whether they’re a stat savvy organization or not, it’s time to bring in a second, or secondary full time hitting coach. Figures, as I’m writing all this, the Tigers have announced Leyland’s return AND that Toby Harrah will be continuing in his role of assistant hitting coach.

It’s the snazzy new trend in the MLB.

I believe the Cards and Braves were among the early embracers of the idea, and the team that just fundamentaled the Tigers to death in the World Series also employs multiple hitting coaches.

We can even think about the idea outside of the plain and gawky stats. Pitchers have all that time off in between starts for starters and appearances for relievers. A good portion of that down time is spent on study. Tendencies. Hot zones. Plate approaches. For everyday positional players having an extra person provide them information they can use against those extra studious hurlers they’re facing only makes sense.


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