Last Updated on November 8, 2023 at 8:00 am by Inna Zeyger
The Yankees promised “significant changes,” but the only ones they’ve publicly announced involve hiring a new hitting coach—James Rowson is expected to fill the role—and partnering with Zelus Analytics for a year-long evaluation of their internal processes. However, it’s unlikely that this partnership will unveil the exact reasons behind the team’s shortcomings.
On Tuesday, New York GM Brian Cashman made a stout defense of Yankees’ adoption of analytics, and what he revealed clearly decimated any hope for those up against it. His repeated use of the word “bullshit” symbolized his refusal to get into that subject time and again. But it can best be characterized as a response to those pushing against the Yankees’ analytic-heavy approach.
Regarding the collaboration with Zelus Analytics, the Yankees general manager disclosed that it was his deputy Mike Fishman, the person manning after the team’s analytics department, who recommended these services.
The Yankees will have the opportunity to examine Zelus’ data analysis and decision-making processes, founded by former Dodgers executives, and compare them to their own in-house operations.
Cashman baffled over pushback against Yankees analytics
The GM explained that the organization routinely assesses different algorithms used by other teams. In such cases, the Yankees inquire about the reasoning behind these alternative approaches and then make a judgment regarding whether their methods are more effective or if the other team’s strategies have merit. This process is primarily focused on evaluating the performance and effectiveness of different algorithms.
The Yankees, who missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and had their worst regular-season winning percentage since 1992, are currently addressing numerous questions. This is particularly true given that the disappointments of the 2023 season did not result in significant changes in the front office or the dugout.
The frequent use of the term “bullshit” underscores Cashman’s weariness and frustration with this topic. This clarifies why he’s essentially highlighting the Yankees’ relatively modest analytics department as a positive aspect. The immediate counterargument is that considering the team’s substantial resources, they should not have the smallest department within their division.
In 2023, it’s a reality that all teams incorporate a blend of analytics and traditional scouting into their operations. Some teams may lean more heavily in one direction than the other, but both of these complementary approaches influence every player-personnel decision made by teams today. Cashman, however, wants to emphasize the Yankees’ particular approach.
Cashman shuts down Yankees analytics critics
The Yankees’ use of analytics has become a major topic of conversation, especially following Aaron Judge’s comments on the last day of the regular season, suggesting that they might be emphasizing the wrong statistics. In response to the notion, whether real or perceived, that the Yankees are overly reliant on analytics, Cashman underlined a different picture.
In the American League East, the Yankees boast the most diminutive analytics department when compared to the other five teams in the division, according to him. Conversely, he claimed, they had the most extensive professional scouting department among those same five teams.
Regardless of how the Yankees reach their decisions, the outcomes of those decisions in 2024 may significantly impact whether Cashman continues to represent the team next offseason. Steinbrenner also defended the team’s analytics department, particularly in how it guides manager Aaron Boone’s in-game decision-making.
Steinbrenner clarified that while analytics provides substantial information, it is not the sole determinant of decisions made by Boone during games. The analytics, alongside input from professional scouts, equip Boone and the coaching staff with data and insights. However, during the games, the Yankees manager relies on this information along with his own judgment and preferences when it comes to assembling lineups and making in-game choices. The decision-making process is a blend of analytics and the manager’s discretion.
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