Sabermetrics has become more popular in professional baseball. You have probably heard of “Wins Above Replacement” (WAR) or “Batting Average on Balls In Play” (BABIP). These are two of the statistics that sabermetrics is comprised of. Beane built very good A’s teams in Oakland in the early 2000s on a very limited budget. A few more GMs have adopted the sabermetric tactic for analyzing players and building rosters. Theo Epstein, Red Sox GM, built the 2004 and 2007 World Champion Red Sox squads using sabermetrics.
As popular as sabermetrics is becoming, there are still some people out there who do not agree with the sabermetric tactic. Former Phillies manager Dallas Green is one of them. In an interview, Green stated that he did not think that the game can be simplified down to a number. He stated that he learned from Paul “The Pope” Owens that the way you evaluate player is by their “head and heart.” This “head and heart” mentality is how the 2011 Phillies were built.
Despite being ousted in the NLDS by the Cardinals, the Phillies still had a phenomenal year. They set the franchise record for wins, won their fifth straight NL East title, and finished an astonishing 13 games up on the second place Braves in the NL East. Dallas Green’s point raises an interesting question: can sabermetrics measure what really makes the Phillies successful? No numbers can explain how Chase Utley and Hunter Pence hustle on every single play. Can numbers explain how Roy Halladay’s preparation has had tremendous effects on his play and has rubbed off on younger pitchers, such as Kyle Kendrick? No number can explain how important it is that Cliff Lee works fast and always keeps the fielders on their toes. And, potentially the most important of them all, there is no number that can show the worth of Carlos Ruiz to the pitching staff. There is no statistic that can convey the trust the Phillies pitchers have in Chooch and there is no number that shows just how well Chooch knows this pitching staff.
The Phillies have done a good job with their “head and heart” mentality and do not appear to be switching to sabermetrics. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick, Ryan Madson and Michael Stutes were all drafted under the “head and heart” mentality. Antonio Bastardo and Carlos Ruiz were signed without the use of sabermetrics. The Phillies didn’t use sabermetrics in the Rule 5 Draft when they selected Shane Victorino, David Herndon, and Michael Martinez. They used the “head and heart” mentality when they made the minor league trade that sent Greg Golson to the Rangers and brought John Mayberry Jr. to the Phillies organization in the fall of 2008.
Sabermetrics is becomingly increasingly more popular and has proved to be efficient for some teams but, as the Phillies prove, not everyone needs sabermetrics to be successful. So, while everyone is falling in love with sabermetrics, don’t forget that it is not the only game in town.