“(Valentine) did cite Alfredo Aceves as “one of the most astute players we have” for trying to understand subtleties such as hitters’ swing paths.” And a commenter responded…“How did sabermetrics work out for Aceves last night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
That’s the idea, at least, which is why something Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said at yesterday’s Jimmy Fund benefit “Sabermetrics, Scouting and the Science of Baseball” seminar at Boston University helped point out numbers can only take a player, and a team, so far.
“I haven’t been given one suggestion based on sabermetrics since I’ve been in Boston,” said Valentine. “Sabermetrics and numbers can’t tell a different story, I don’t think, unless you’re reading a different book.”
Part of Valentine’s point was that number-crunching can help but when it comes to game time, and in that half a second it takes for a ball to travel from a pitcher’s hand to home plate, that’s when reflexes, instincts and talent take over.
“From my vantage point,” said Valentine, “I want my players to just play, I want them to be given information that can help them but once it’s game time, I think they have to react. Use pregame data but play the game. The essence of success in anything you do is being in that moment.”
...Also at the seminar for the second year in a row was Tom Tippett, Red Sox director of baseball services. With Bill James, the founding father of sabermetrics and a senior adviser for the Red Sox, in the audience, Tippett pointed out how even with reams of data at the club’s beck and call, there is still plenty of debate about how best to use it and interpret it. He said that he and James disagreed about whether or not Fenway’s dimensions would help or hurt Carl Crawford.
“Bill argued that Fenway Park would mostly negate Carl’s defensive value” while Tippett argued the opposite. “So far, Bill’s right and I was dead wrong,” said Tippett.