A year and change after Ruben Amaro derided statistical analysis, the Phillies have finally hired a stats guy. His name is Scott Freedman, who until now had ben working for Major League Baseball’s Labor Relations Department. He did arbitration cases, where being able to marshal statistical evidence is useful thing.
Now the question is whether Amaro will truly listen to him and make him part of the decision making process. Or if one guy hired now will be able to stand up to other teams which have scads of these guys who have been in place for years. Because based on Amaro’s recent comments on the matter, it sounds like Freedman could be out on an island and only a minor part of the Phillies’ player evaluation process.
Guess we’ll see. For now: welcome to 2002, Philadelphia.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.