When stat nerds are allowed to run a baseball team


Sam Miller, the editor in chief of Baseball Prospectus, and Ben Lindbergh of FiveThirtyEight have a book coming out about something weird they did last summer: they ran a baseball team.

Yep: the independent Sonoma Stompers of the Pacific Association handed the baseball operations keys over to these two knuckleheads with zero actual baseball experience in order to see how it’d all work. Over the weekend Sam wrote a column about it at the New York Times talking about what worked and what didn’t.

The key takeaway: the data may have worked but it wasn’t well-received from players because of who was delivering it and how they presented themselves. The story mattered as much as the information and when you give people who are creatures of habit and routine an unconventional story — and when you do it in a way that makes you come off as if you have a superiority complex — it’s sometimes hard to make it stick. Sam notes that this was his and Ben’s failure, however, not the players’. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but if you’re constantly misunderstood, it’s not the problem of the people misunderstanding you. If you’re the one who wants to accomplish and explain something, the burden is on you to know your audience and find the best way to communicate.

If the column about it is this self-aware, I imagine the book will be fantastic.

Video reviews overturn 42% rate; Boston most successful

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NEW YORK (AP) Video reviews overturned 42.4% of calls checked during Major League Baseball’s shortened regular season, down slightly from 44% in 2019.

Boston was the most successful team, gaining overturned calls on 10 of 13 challenges for 76.9%. The Chicago White Sox were second, successful on eight of 11 challenges for 72.7%, followed by Kansas City at seven of 10 (70%).

Pittsburgh was the least successful at 2 of 11 (18.2%), and Toronto was 7 of 25 (28%).

Minnesota had the most challenges with 28 and was successful on nine (32.1%). The New York Yankees and Milwaukee tied for the fewest with nine each; the Yankees were successful on five (55.6%) and the Brewers three (33.3%).

MLB said Tuesday there were 468 manager challenges and 58 crew chief reviews among 526 total reviews during 898 games. The average time of a review was 1 minute, 25 seconds, up from 1:16 the previous season, when there 1,186 manager challenges and 170 crew chief reviews among 1,356 reviews during 2,429 games.

This year’s replays had 104 calls confirmed (19.8%), 181 that stood (34.4%) and 223 overturned. An additional 12 calls (2.3%) were for rules checks and six (1.1%) for recording keeping.

In 2019 there were 277 calls confirmed (12.5%), 463 that stood (34.1%) and 597 overturned. An additional nine calls (0.7%) were for rules checks and 10 (0.7%) for record keeping.

Expanded video review started in 2014.