Yankees: An open letter to management about analytics

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Manager Aaron Boone
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Manager Aaron Boone /

On Tuesday, CC Sabathia pitched a gem through six innings. Because he reached a pitch count above 75, Yankees management brought in Dellin Betances, who almost blew the game. Here are my grievances towards analytics.

Dear Yankees Management,

Last year, you were the little engine that could. You were not expected to make the playoffs, yet you were a win away from the World Series. For fans like me, 2017 certainly turned out to be a fun, emotional rollercoaster ride to follow.

It’s nice that we are finally starting to win consecutive games against teams that we should beat. The Gleyber Torres call-up is already paying off, so good job. However, I am worried about a couple of things moving forward, and so are a good number of us #PinstripePride faithful.

In my opinion, Dave Roberts over-managed the Los Angeles Dodgers into losing the 2017 World Series. Roberts relied too heavily on analytics and forgot these ballplayers are human beings. It appears the Los Angeles Times agrees with me if you would like a reference.

While Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch is also an analytics aficionado, he also takes some risks. For example, he had Brad Peacock, a pitcher with a career ERA above 4.00, acquire the final 11 outs of the World Series. Brad-Freaken-Peacock?!

According to Bleacher Report, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow provided Hinch with tons of data. But he also gave Hinch leeway to make the baseball decisions as the club’s manager (go figure).

I don’t know if this is true, but many fans believe Aaron Boone is Brian Cashman’s puppet. I would like to think that is false. However, I have read, and I’ve heard too much talk about sabermetrics and advanced analytics from pinstripe management.

Reminder: Baseball players are not robots programmed by analytics

We aren’t dealing with computers, robots or androids. So why are we treating these players like machines? It started with pitch counts years ago. Now analysts have premonitions about the third time through a lineup being a death sentence for starting pitchers.

On Tuesday, management almost blew the game for the Yankees because of this logic. Sabathia threw under 100 pitches, allowed only two hits through six innings, yet he was pulled from the game. I understand Sabathia can’t eat up innings like he used to, but he was on a roll yesterday!

Once Betances came into the game, the Twins immediately found new life. Thankfully, David Robertson came in, but why use relievers when you don’t have to? Relievers should be used for one thing: relief when starting pitchers need it! Let me repeat: WHEN THEY NEED IT!

More from Yankees News

While I do agree with utilizing advanced baseball statistics to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of players, I hope you understand some of the numbers are hogwash.

For example, the numbers don’t know the mental challenges a baseball player faces every day. So how can someone believe that baseball is primarily a psychological game, but also think it’s an analytical numbers one as well? It is baseball, not the International Mathematical Olympiad!

Also, let’s rewind to the first series of the season. What was up with walking a clearly injured Josh Donaldson and pitching to a hot Justin Smoak with the bases loaded? I already know the answer: the numbers said to walk Donaldson because he has good numbers against D-Rob.

If anything, baseball is more comparable to a jazz musician playing in tune and on-beat. When a musician is “in the zone” you can tell because the music sounds crisp. It’s similar to when a hitter or a pitcher is in the zone, you can simply tell.

Related Story: Yankees need to get Dellin Betances right

Final thoughts

All that I am asking is for Yankees management to not forcibly make decisions based off of the data all of the time. Play the hot hand, and let it drive you to the promise land.

I would have rather seen Sabathia start to fall apart in the seventh inning, and then have a reliever relieve him; that’s all. It was good to have Robertson bailout Betances, but I think bringing in Betances to start the seventh was premature.

To play devil’s advocate, Betances is a four-time all-star that is in a rut right now. He needs to work his way through his struggles. So I understand why bringing him in to close, but not a save or hold opportunity could make sense.

I also don’t know for sure if Sabathia told Aaron Boone he had nothing left in the tank. Maybe he didn’t have anything left in the tank. If he did though, I don’t think Boone would have let Sabathia come out for the seventh-inning anyway because of analytics. Afterall, the numbers don’t lie.

Remember, Dave Roberts, over-managed the Los Angeles Dodgers into losing the World Series because analytics told him so. I guess, sometimes the numbers do lie.

Next: Tyler Austin deserves to be the full time first basemen


Christopher J. Scott  (a die-hard fan)

PS: Sign Didi Gregorius to an extension, Tyler Austin doesn’t deserve to lose his first base job and don’t you dare take Miguel Andujar out of the lineup.