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The New York Yankees lost last night, falling behind 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays and garnering plenty criticism from around baseball. Former Yankee Alex Rodriguez and Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay spoke out against the team allowing analytics to take over. Data drove the Yankees front office to start 21-year-old Deivi Garcia for one inning and then bring starter J.A. Happ out of the bullpen.
A-Rod and Kay are right. The Yankees need to ditch analytical coaching before it’s too late.
“You start spending so much time trying to out smart the Ivy Leaguers over there, that’s not your game. Don’t play jeopardy. Play baseball.”@AROD gave his thoughts on the Yankees falling behind the Rays 2 games to 1. pic.twitter.com/yV0xdBQakZ— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 8, 2020
Fast forward to 1:42 to hear what Michael Kay had to say about the Yankees’ decision to start Garcia for just one inning.
Brian Cashman and the rest of this front office are far too involved in the everyday decision-making of this team. A team with a $324 million Gerrit Cole for Game 1 sends out a one-inning opener in Game 2? Common sense, like that heard from Kay and Rodriguez, recognizes that this is a bad idea, but analytics made it happen anyway. Data driven decisions have been the “Yankees way” for a decade, and it isn’t working.
A-Rod and Michael Kay have no reason to be critical of the Yankee organization. Both men want the team to succeed. The Yankees gave a A-Rod 10-year, $275 million contract and Michael Kay one of the best gigs in sports, so their criticism should matter.
Where to go from here?
Aaron Boone was hired in large part because he was willing to bend the knee to the department of analytics. Former manager Joe Girardi was old-school and made his decisions trusting his instincts. Using instinct is just a fancy way of saying “common sense,” and that’s what this Yankees team needs.
No one’s going to say it, but the Yankees made a major mistake ditching their old-school mentality. Not that analytics shouldn’t have a place in baseball, but they should be consulted, not obeyed.
One quick caveat: you’re all blaming Boone but this was an organizational decision where all of the permutations were laid out there. I know you want one person for the dart board, but putting this all on Boone is just not getting the way the game works now.— Michael Kay (@RealMichaelKay) October 7, 2020
Kay also is right that Aaron Boone isn’t as much to blame as Twitter claims. He’s in this role because he has enabled the front office to dip their toes in on-the-field decisions. This past decade, the Yankees have lost when it mattered, which can happen when people who don’t play baseball make baseball decisions. Sometimes the decision of who starts Game 2 and 3 is no more complicated than pitching the second and third best starters.
If the Yankees want to start winning again, they need to learn how to manage the analytics. Bringing in J.A. Happ as the “secret weapon” in Game 2 isn’t analytical, it’s stupid.