Seems like the trendy thing these days is to complain about analytics because it’s “ruining the game of baseball.”

Endless pitching changes, defensive shifts, pulling your starter after five innings, stuff like that. Baseball is a computer game for dorks and has no “feel. That’s what they say.

Seems apt then, that shortly after the Phillies’ season ended in disappointment, the club posted two job openings, one for a ‘Quantitative Analyst, Baseball Research & Development,’ and one for a ‘Software Engineer,’ also in the Baseball Research and Development department.

Here’s part of the job description for the first gig:

Using analytical rigor, you work with your team as you mine through data and see opportunities for the Phillies to improve. After communicating the results of your studies and experiments to the GM and executive staff, you collaborate with front office executives, scouts, coaches, and trainers to incorporate your findings into Phillies practices. Identifying the challenge is only half the job; you also work to figure out and implement the solution.

Here, I’ll identify the challenge for you:

They can’t hit or field and the pitching regressed.

Job description for gig number two:

The work of a Software Engineer (SWE) or SWE intern at the Phillies extends well beyond merely coding. As a SWE you contribute fresh ideas in a variety of areas, including information retrieval, networking and data storage, security, machine learning, natural language processing, UI design and mobile to shape the evolution of the Phillies baseball analytics systems.

Seriously though, I’m an “analytics guy” in the sense that I feel like any data you can use to your benefit is only a positive thing. Information is power as long as it’s applied correctly in a way that gives you some sort of competitive advantage on the field of play. The problem with analytics is when you turn the entire game into one big math problem and lose your feel for the game, your gut instinct, and intangible connection with players and fans.

Like most things in life, there’s a balance, and I feel like the Phils are a little off right now.

I drew a fancy diagram to explain where I feel like the team currently falls on the spectrum of analytics vs. old school management:





To me, it’s not that the Phillies are using analytics, it’s that the application needs to be reevaluated.

Either way, let’s get those nerds: