Andy MacPhail, new leader of the Phillies’ front office, is seen during spring training baseball practice, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
The Phillies have a message for their fans: We care about sabermetrics. They used the word a bunch. John Middleton, the most prominent member of the Phillies’ silent partnership, said it. Interim president Pat Gillick, who put together the Phillies’ 2008 championship team, said it. Andy MacPhail, who will be the new Phillies president at the end of the season, said it many, many times.
Sabermetrics, a term coined from the acronym for the Society for American Baseball Research, is at its core the empirical analysis of baseball (as Wikipedia puts it). But it’s also code for a way of thinking that values statistics over scouting when putting together a baseball club. The Phillies have been chastised for doing the opposite, such as relying on 7-year-old scouting reports when signing outfielder Delmon Young in 2012.
“I don’t care about walks,” General Manager Ruben Amaro said in January 2013. “I care about production. To be frank with you, I’ve said this all along. All of the sabermatricians and all of the people who think they know exactly what makes a good club… to me, it’s more about run production and being able to score runs and drive in runs.”
The Phillies clearly attempted to make introduction of MacPhail as president a new start for the franchise. The Phillies say they plan to be more forward-thinking. Middleton said the Phillies were creating a “custom-made system” for evaluating players, and said the team would hire new analysts sometime this season if they needed to. MacPhail didn’t say what that meant for general manager Ruben Amaro, but said he was looking to use statistics.
“In Chicago, I was the president and CEO,” MacPhail said. “I had a GM who I loved that was not very saber-friendly, but I made him hire two kids to help him with that. We used to use it in Minnesota, for God’s sake. We don’t really advertise it, why would we? … Nobody’s got all the tools. You have to hire people around you.” All three brought this up before being asked about it. Read more »