Ex-Yankees standout joins annoying fight against analytics

Adam Weinrib
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Derek Jeter #2 and Francisco Cervelli #29 of the New York Yankees celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on September 10, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Derek Jeter #2 and Francisco Cervelli #29 of the New York Yankees celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on September 10, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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There’s plenty wrong with the 2021 New York Yankees, a team that has evolved from a gut-punch season-ender in 2019 to a disappointing 2020 to a disastrous current year.

One thing we can definitively say is not a problem, though, is the team’s use of analytics. Every team better than them uses analytics. Every team you’re furious the Yankees can’t beat uses analytics. What else you got for us, brainiac?

The analytics department might be full of the wrong people, though, considering this team seems to be worse at adapting them and communicating them to the manager than any other contender.

That’s a nuanced issue which can likely be debated! But what can’t be debated is the philosophical usefulness of 20+ years of mathematical and logical research.

The clarity of that cut-and-dried argument did not halt the aggravating online discourse following Sunday’s latest brutal collapse, though.

Kim Jones, formerly the YES Network’s sideline reporter, raised the question of whether or not analytics are entirely to blame for the team’s disjointed nature.

Depressingly, Francisco Cervelli agreed!

Francisco Cervelli thinks the Yankees stink because of analytics.

Spoiler alert, did you know Cervelli wrapped his career after the 2020 season with a 101 wRC+ mark? A firmly above-average career! Considering analytics make it clear how valuable he was, you’d think he’d be more in favor of the evaluation system.

Alas, it seems the culture of despising analytics is just as pervasive among fringe big-leaguers as it is among media members looking for a first-blush reaction to a depressing loss.

No matter how many bad losses the Yankees pile up in a row, we’re not willing to even acknowledge the possibility that analytical theories are to blame here. What could be to blame are the people implementing them. Aaron Boone does a number of things, like bat Brett Gardner at the top of the order, that an intelligent analytics team would never request. No analytics team would ever tell Brian Cashman to avoid lefties entirely when building a team at Yankee Friggin’ Stadium.

We’re not sure exactly where the paradise was lost here, but there have been a number of completely inane baseball decisions made lately and throughout 2021 (why was the infield back on Sunday?!) that have nothing to do with what a well-reasoned analytics team would implement.

Understanding that analytics remains a dirty word for players like Cervelli who were raised on grit and grind, it’s not fair to impugn the movement here. It is fair to wonder if the Yankees have any idea how to finish the job given their information, though.

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