So the additions of Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal will bring the Orioles up to speed with analytics. The team, over time, will no doubt become one of the top clubs at making data-driven decisions.
But while analytics have been used by teams to attempt to make good decisions for the future as they evaluate players, the next area of influence is likely to come on game day. And during the game. This is happening now to some degree, and maybe for some teams to a very large degree.
Teams are using the analytics to help players in the moment. The scouts and scouting reports can tell us which pitches a pitcher throws and his velocity and so forth, but the analytics can dig deeper. When he allows homers, does that come off certain pitches? Does it come in certain counts? If a pitcher is struggling his last three or four starts, why is that? What should batters focus on tonight when they face him?
Maybe the data can tell us that a pull hitter has suddenly been going the opposite way a lot in the last few weeks and it’s time for the defense to rethink its positioning against him.
Maybe the data can tell us that a good fastball hitter has suddenly been making more outs against 95-plus mph fastballs the last few weeks, so tonight’s pitchers should focus more on that than be concerned about his track record of mashing fastballs.
It is analytics in the moment, if you will, and it is what is coming next and/or is there now among some of the most data-based teams.
This was discussed recently in a conversation on MLB Network. Former big leaguer Carlos Peña is a big believer in the data and was asked that question: What is to come next among analytics?
“This is a very important question,” Peña said. “Because now that every single team is on board as far as sabermetrics and analytics is concerned and there is this information war going on, now what? What is the advantage? Maybe earlier on, the team that got ahead had a distinct advantage, but not anymore. So now what is coming?
“I think the next frontier is liquid analytics. Which means analytics that help you immediately, in the moment. Doing things in the moment to win the ballgame or orchestrate a good plan for an at-bat. What do you do to face a certain pitcher that came out of the ‘pen at that moment? That is where the next frontier is.
“I think analytics that is based on historical data will take a slight back seat, and we have to move on to how to utilize and apply the information in the moment.”
A reunion for Schoop?: If the Milwaukee Brewers do, in fact, non-tender former Oriole Jonathan Schoop later today, the second baseman will become a free agent. He could be signed for less - perhaps much less - than the projected $10.1 million he would have gotten through arbitration. A report yesterday indicated there is a “strong possibility” of a non-tender today for Schoop. Tonight is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players for the 2019 season.
On July 31, the Brewers traded pitcher Luis Ortiz, infielder Jonathan Villar and minor leaguer Jean Carmona to Baltimore to get Schoop. Schoop had been in a big slump for the Orioles, but in July he broke out to hit .360. But whatever he did to get his bat finally going, it didn’t carry over for him with the Brewers. He batted .202/.246/.331 in 134 plate appearances for Milwaukee. He was such a disappointment that he didn’t start for the club in the postseason.
If he gets non-tendered today, do the Orioles go after their former second baseman? Could Schoop return and this time play without Manny Machado? He had a breakout 2017 for the Orioles, batting .293/.338/.503 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs. He finished 12th in the American League vote for the MVP.
But then came 2018 and mostly struggles for the kid with the big smile. Schoop can be a free agent after the 2019 season, but if the Brewers cut him loose today he’ll need to find a team where he can re-ignite his career. Maybe that place could be where it all started for him.