The New York Yankees might have an analytics problem, but it certainly isn’t that they use too much of it. The league’s most successful franchises, from the powerhouse Dodgers to the impenetrable Astros, rely on advanced analytics to make their decisions. Most of those decisions, for the better part of a decade, have been extremely good.
The Yankees’ problem? Whoever’s in charge of their analytics appears to be running five or 10 steps behind the curve. Employing “nerds” isn’t the issue. Hiring the wrong nerds? That has to change.
Whenever the Yankees are eliminated from the postseason, an old school/new school rift opens up and scholars debate ad nauseam whether they strike out too much or not enough, and whether they should sacrifice a home run or two in favor of a well-placed bunt.
This year, the Yankees’ offensive failures were cut and dried. They would’ve lost the ALDS if not for a few perfectly-timed home runs, and they were swept in the ALCS because … their players were worse than Houston’s, almost across the board.
It’s a philosophy problem without a doubt; the wrong talent is being acquired and reinforced. But the way the critique is often presented remains a little silly, like in the case of World Champion Giants coach Tim Flannery.
The Yankees could use more championship pedigree, more hitting acumen, and better personnel. But abandon analytics? No. They just have to pick the right ones.
Ex-San Francisco Giants coach Tim Flannery calls Yankees a hoax
Flannery made one great point here: the Yankees’ current brand of baseball is certainly boring, and faked out a lot of fans earlier in the summer. The team also absolutely, absolutely, absolutely has to cut down on their strikeouts; by the ALCS, it was embarrassing. Josh Donaldson struck out 10 times in 13 at-bats. That can’t happen.
That said, the only real takeaway is that Donaldson shouldn’t be starting anymore, the Yankees should upgrade at 4-5 spots across the diamond, and the Astros’ advanced analytics people were probably chuckling into their gumbos every time JD batted or Isiah Kiner-Falefa was reinserted at shortstop.
It seems Flannery’s mentions became a tire fire after he tweeted his initial thoughts — naturally, considering Yankees fans’ thin skin also happens to be hotter than molten lava right now.
He didn’t walk back his criticism. He just tweeted out the photo of Yankees starter “Black Jack” McDowell flipping the Yankee Stadium crowd the bird.
We’re not going to use this for any “Twitter Show,” but Flannery has a point. The Yankees need more left-handed hitters with a little pop who can also get on base and hit situationally. Brandon Nimmo would help. Andrew Benintendi was a big loss. Strikeouts do suck, though in some situations, they matter just as much as any other out.
If the Yankees want to halt these criticisms in 2023, they should simply … hire better decision-makers. Analytics work when you win, fail when you lose. Flannery has won plenty in the past. Maybe he’s available?