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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabermetrics Intern That They Hired Him

ITCHIN AMARO, ITCHIN AMARO
Now it’s in all the papers.

A few months ago we told you about Scott Freedman, the MLB extern who was loaned out to the Phils to explain to Ruben Amaro what on-base percentage means. Well, it seems Amaro understood and was so enthralled by what Freedman told him that the team decided to bring Freedman on full-time.

From Jerry Crasnick’s sad State of the Phillies article on ESPN.com:

  Amaro, by his admission, is most comfortable evaluating talent through the instincts that he developed as a player, along with the input he receives from a kitchen cabinet that includes Gillick, Dallas Green, Charlie Kerfeld, Benny Looper and Gordon Lakey. He’s particularly skeptical of some new defensive metrics that fuel front-office decisions, and he isn’t shy about sharing that opinion. The Phillies recently took a step forward with the addition of analyst Scott Freedman, who has a mandate to hasten the transition to statistical enlightenment. Freedman joined the organization from the commissioner’s office in November on a sort of trial-internship, but the Phillies liked what they saw enough to add him to their staff as a full-time hire several weeks ago.

Repoz Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:31 AM | 48 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:48 AM (#4647215)
few months ago we told you about Scott Freedman, the MLB extern who was loaned out to the Phils to explain to Ruben Amaro what on-base percentage means.


Is this a joke for hyperbole or real? Its sad I can't tell.
   2. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4647228)
Hyperbole, but not by much. :(
   3. JE (Jason) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:23 AM (#4647243)
Hyperbole, but not by much. :(

Agreed. Freedman didn't explain OBP to Amaro; he merely pointed to the scoreboard.
   4. Guapo Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4647245)


The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....


The headline on the home page would work really well on Match Game. I was going to go with "Promoted him to Phanatic."
   5. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:35 AM (#4647259)
Man, what a lame website..... the bar is lowered.....
   6. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:50 AM (#4647278)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....


threw him in the water to see if he would float.
   7. villageidiom Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4647284)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They.... shot him before he could reveal their last-place strategy.
   8. Swedish Chef Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:01 AM (#4647296)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....

cooked him and ate him so they could gain his powers.
   9. GregD Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4647301)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....
set him up to be the fall guy when the team tanks
   10. JE (Jason) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4647306)
The headline on the home page would work really well on Match Game.

Like The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Match Game was a perfect fit for the 70s. Sigh.
   11. zonk Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:51 AM (#4647352)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....

checked his 5th grade report card to see if he might be worth hiring.
   12. zonk Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4647354)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....

cast bones to see what the spirits thought.
   13. Flynn Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:57 AM (#4647357)
Charlie Kerfeld is part of somebody's brain trust? Be afraid. Be very afraid.
   14. villageidiom Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4647361)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They.... Voted for him in the Gold Glove awards.
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4647362)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....


dealt him to an AL West club for a 38-year-old fourth outfielder already signed to a reasonable 3 year/$48 million contract.
   16. depletion Posted: January 28, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4647372)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....
... went on a date with him to the Monster Truck show and made out in the parking lot later.
   17. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 12:22 PM (#4647384)
Charlie Kerfeld is part of somebody's brain trust? Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Yeah, I was kind of surprised by that bit, too.
   18. Bug Selig Posted: January 28, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4647388)
Charlie Kerfeld is part of somebody's brain trust? Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Hey, it takes a lot of hard work and know-how to turn 5th overall pick talent into one season as a good middle reliver.
   19. bigglou115 Posted: January 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM (#4647391)
In all seriousness, I had an opportunity to sit and talk with Proefrock, who was at the time the Assistant GM who's department included statistics. At the time, the Phillies were front runners in the division, and one of the players he discussed was J.A. Happ. For what it was worth, he seemed to understand what I meant by FIP, BABIP, and strand rate. It was simply his opinion that those things weren't as important as a scouting report that said Happ could continue to succeed despite any statistical indicators.

Now, I'm a Braves fan, so I hope the Phillies never get it because the Braves seen hesitant to embrace the new thinking as well, but if I were a Philly fan this would give me some hope. They understand the statistics, so once they realize their way is failing it shouldn't be too impossible to implement them without a complete overhaul.
   20. eddieot Posted: January 28, 2014 at 01:03 PM (#4647416)
Love the intro, Repoz!
   21. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 28, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4647442)
Like The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Match Game was a perfect fit for the 70s. Sigh.

They got to say Boob(ies) a lot, so we could all titter.
   22. madvillain Posted: January 28, 2014 at 02:12 PM (#4647477)
It's hard to believe that in a multi-billion dollar industry like MLB that such ignorance exists in 2014. It's not like this is the nascent days of sabermetric principles in the FO, this is post that by a decade and you still have the Phillies operating in the relative dark ages. What's this guys salary relative to operating income? Like .001%? You'd think they would have had a few data and stats types on the staff long ago.

Edit: WAR is used in the article as a predictive measure, which yea, it's not. Hopefully the intern has explained periphereals.
   23. Chase Insteadman Wannabe Posted: January 28, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4647478)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They...

...have dispatched a cadre of scouts to evaluate his tools.
   24. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4647505)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They...

...had their augur take the auspices to see if the gods also favored him.
   25. zonk Posted: January 28, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4647513)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They...

sent him to evaluate this Bobby Abreu kid they just signed.
   26. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 28, 2014 at 02:46 PM (#4647518)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....

...reduced their contract offer from six years to five (with an option) to Old Man Periwinkle.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4647523)
Charlie Kerfeld is part of somebody's brain trust? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

What, the Soggy Bottom Boys weren't available?
   28. Textbook Editor Posted: January 28, 2014 at 02:56 PM (#4647527)
For what it was worth, he seemed to understand what I meant by FIP, BABIP, and strand rate. It was simply his opinion that those things weren't as important as a scouting report that said Happ could continue to succeed despite any statistical indicators.


I've said it to my friends who are Phillies fans, and I'll say it again here: They lucked into 2008. To win again under current ownership they'd have to luck into another one--it won't be by design or planning, because they're incapable of designing or planning a team for the current century. They're stuck in 1983 thinking. They think the 1993 team got to the World Series with grit and pluck and "veteran leadership," and completely missed that almost every guy could draw a walk and they had a great team OBP (and the same thing was essentially true in 2008 as well).

Current ownership supports this 1983-thinking culture, and there has not been a single change to the culture in 30 years. Expecting the Phillies to embrace/understand/use sabermetrics is like expecting a fish to ride a bicycle. It's just never, ever, ever going to happen until the current owners sell the team... And even then it might not happen unless you get the right owner.

It's gotta be depressing if you're a Phillies fan.
   29. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 28, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4647577)
They think the 1993 team got to the World Series with grit and pluck and "veteran leadership," and completely missed that almost every guy could draw a walk and they had a great team OBP

And STEROIDS! I suspect Daulton, Hollins, Inky, Dykstra :), Chamberlain, Danny Jackson, Munoz, Tommie Green, every other pitcher who was bigger than the previous guy, heck even Shilling. I don't suspect Kruk :), Morandini, Stocker, Milt Thompson and Eisenreich.

EDIT: TE, I agree with everything you said. They were especially lucky with picking up Werth and Victorino off the scrap heap. They also don't realize that team peaked at the same time and that on the far side of 30 ain't peak no more.
   30. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 28, 2014 at 03:41 PM (#4647580)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....

...reduced their contract offer from six years to five (with an option) to Old Man Periwinkle.


Very nice tie-in to a venerable Match Game meme!
   31. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 28, 2014 at 03:54 PM (#4647585)
I've said it to my friends who are Phillies fans, and I'll say it again here: They lucked into 2008.


2008 was the second of what turned out to be five straight division titles. You don't luck into five straight division titles.

It was also only the second-most games they won over that five-year stretch. I've never noticed this before, but it's pretty remarkable: The Phillies won their division in 2007, then proceeded to post progressively better records in each of the next four years. Overall, they improved their record for six straight seasons.
   32. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 28, 2014 at 03:55 PM (#4647586)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....

went home and reviewed his first slide on the Chadwick Average.
   33. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 28, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4647590)
@Tom, you certainly have a point but :)...
Utley and Hamels were fine picks, and let's give them credit for getting Rollins in Round 2.
Give them credit for developing Ruiz.
But having Howard, Werth and Victorino all come from nowhere within a couple years of each other and all being around the same age and being in their primes when the did, I think that's a lot of luck.
Once that nucleus was in place, then they did smart stuff like getting Halladay, Lee (Twice!), and to a lesser degree, Oswalt and Pence. Trading Lee, Pence and Victorino for nothing was dreadful.
   34. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 28, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4647591)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....

...reduced their contract offer from six years to five (with an option) to Old Man Periwinkle.


Very nice tie-in to a venerable Match Game meme!



They've also extended a spring training invite to Euell Gibbons.

He should improve the Phillies' running game. Slide it, Euell.
   35. Dale Sams Posted: January 28, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4647592)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....


"How impressed were they???"
   36. Nasty Nate Posted: January 28, 2014 at 04:13 PM (#4647594)
Utley and Hamels were fine picks, and let's give them credit for getting Rollins in Round 2.
Give them credit for developing Ruiz.
But having Howard, Werth and Victorino all come from nowhere within a couple years of each other and all being around the same age and being in their primes when the did, I think that's a lot of luck.
Once that nucleus was in place, then they did smart stuff like getting Halladay, Lee (Twice!), and to a lesser degree, Oswalt and Pence.


The Werth and Victorino acquisitions were smart moves, and they drafted and developed Howard. I don't know why getting those players should be considered more lucky than the other players listed in your post.
   37. Sean Forman Posted: January 28, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4647625)
Agreed. Freedman didn't explain OBP to Amaro; he merely pointed to the scoreboard.


OBP isn't on the Phillies scoreboard, I don't believe.
   38. Sean Forman Posted: January 28, 2014 at 04:59 PM (#4647633)
Pat Gillick is one smart dude.
   39. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 28, 2014 at 05:03 PM (#4647635)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....traded him for a much older intern.
   40. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: January 28, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4647637)
They lucked into 2008.


As said, a ridiculous point for a team that won 5 straight division titles. The Phillies have traditionally prioritized big upside, projects, and it has hurt a lot (Golson, Watson) but they've hit on a lot of these too. Mike Arbuckle was simply an excellent director of scouting, and built a legit great team through the draft that was complemented by Gillick's pickup of folks like Werth/Vic/Moyer.

If they lucked into anything, it was hiring him.
   41. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 28, 2014 at 05:48 PM (#4647672)
FYI, Victorino was the handiwork of Ed Wade. And the Phils offered him back to the Dodgers in Rule 5 and the Dodgers refused. Skillful negotiating, I guess.

I think Howard developing was just a stroke of luck, as well as Victorino and Werth developing into stars/near-stars. Why haven't they continued to do it, if it is a Phillies' skill?
   42. kthejoker Posted: January 28, 2014 at 05:58 PM (#4647676)
It's hard to believe that in a multi-billion dollar industry like MLB that such ignorance exists in 2014. It's not like this is the nascent days of sabermetric principles in the FO, this is post that by a decade and you still have the Phillies operating in the relative dark ages. What's this guys salary relative to operating income? Like .001%? You'd think they would have had a few data and stats types on the staff long ago.


I work in business intelligence, I've been at 4 Fortune 500 companies and a very large private company, all of their data/statistics IT areas are pretty woeful. I've yet to see even basic streamlined soup-to-nuts data analytics suites, not to even get to single version of truth or elegant ad-hoc analysis. It's hard work, people cut a lot of corners, and there's always way more gut feeling to go around when the cold hard numbers don't have a solid audit trail or hell, just seem "off".
   43. zonk Posted: January 28, 2014 at 06:19 PM (#4647692)
I work in business intelligence, I've been at 4 Fortune 500 companies and a very large private company, all of their data/statistics IT areas are pretty woeful. I've yet to see even basic streamlined soup-to-nuts data analytics suites, not to even get to single version of truth or elegant ad-hoc analysis. It's hard work, people cut a lot of corners, and there's always way more gut feeling to go around when the cold hard numbers don't have a solid audit trail or hell, just seem "off".


What!?!?!?!

But I've been told that LSS took care of this! It's got data right there in the model!
   44. Bitter Mouse Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:41 PM (#4647729)
I work in business intelligence, I've been at 4 Fortune 500 companies and a very large private company, all of their data/statistics IT areas are pretty woeful. I've yet to see even basic streamlined soup-to-nuts data analytics suites, not to even get to single version of truth or elegant ad-hoc analysis. It's hard work, people cut a lot of corners, and there's always way more gut feeling to go around when the cold hard numbers don't have a solid audit trail or hell, just seem "off".


Me also. I have been in BI for nearly 20 years. One company I worked with did not have a way to calculate profit on devices by major customer. They could get cost in one place and revenue by customer, but just never cold tie them together. It was so frustrating making recommendations for what they needed to do and be ignored. Sigh.

The most advanced analytic company I ever worked for was a mail/catalog company. Man they had their act together in data modeling and analysis. Many statisticians and people who cared about data.
   45. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 28, 2014 at 08:29 PM (#4647751)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....


...opened his cage and let him run free. They were hoping he would look back, just for a moment, when he reached the edge of the forest. But he never did.
   46. 'Spos stares out the window, waits for spring Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:49 PM (#4647770)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabermetrics Intern That They....


...transplanted it to a bigger pot and moved it to a sunnier corner of the foyer.
   47. Swoboda is freedom Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:52 PM (#4647811)
The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabremetric Intern That They....

sliced him open with a saber so all the metrics would fall out, but none did.
   48. bobm Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:00 AM (#4647812)
From the Nov 2013 article linked here: http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/newsstand/discussion/zolecki_mlbcom_-_new_hire_to_help_phils_better_utilize_advanced_stats/

The Phils' front office believes it took a step in the right direction recently when it accepted Scott Freedman as a consultant from Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department, where he has worked on salary arbitration cases, provided financial guidance to teams and gained a deep knowledge of advanced metrics. Freedman is not a Phillies employee. MLB is paying his salary as part of a partnership with the Phils, although the team has the opportunity to hire him permanently once his externship concludes before the beginning of the regular season. [...]

Freedman first appeared on Philadelphia's radar this summer. MLB regularly trains people like Freedman, then helps place them in front offices across baseball.

The Phillies were particularly interested in Freedman's ability to expand their data analysis capabilities. His experience in preparation for salary arbitration cases got him involved with advanced metrics. And Freedman's work with MLB gives him an idea of how other teams use analytics. [Emphasis added]

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