As the New York Yankees gear up for their last two regular-season games, a potential overhaul waits in the wings. Hal Steinbrenner, the team’s owner, has taken the proactive step of engaging an external party to delve deep into the decision-making processes that have shaped the team’s moves in recent off-seasons.
Years of questionable trades and dubious free agency fund allocations call for a revision in strategy if the Yankees aim to emerge victorious in future deals. And, if insider talks are anything to go by, the analytics department might be facing the most scrutiny.
The Analytics Team on the Hot Seat
Bob Klapisch of NJ.com has thrown some light on the issue.
“The final report will be data-driven and purely objective. None of it bodes well for the Yankees’ analytics department, which is obsessed with exit velocity and spin rates, and has advised GM Brian Cashman to make disastrous trades for Joey Gallo, Josh Donaldson and Frankie Montas, among others.”
Missteps like the pricey $50 million two-year deal for Donaldson and Montas’ glaring absence this season have indeed cost the Yankees. And, Joey Gallo’s underwhelming .159 batting average with a .282 OBP in 2022 only added to the misery before his shift to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Once hailed as an exceptional lefty power hitter, Gallo’s deteriorating performance highlighted the team’s flawed analytical approach.
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Unearthing the Analytical Misjudgments
A dive into the Yankees’ analytical decisions reveals a pattern of misallocations, be it in terms of substantial salaries or in trading valuable prospects. While they’ve managed to make some right moves in securing bullpen talents like Clay Holmes and Ian Hamilton, their outfield and rotation recruits have been far from commendable.
The decision to invest heavily in older players, already burdened with long injury histories, was a gamble that didn’t pay off. Expecting them all to defy age and stay healthy was a lofty dream that crashed hard. With a staggering $280 million payroll and limited returns on player acquisitions, it’s evident there’s a missing link in their analytical strategy.
Smaller franchises manage to scout efficient players without breaking the bank points to possible misuse of analytics by the Yankees. Aaron Judge himself has hinted at the lineup’s imbalance, with the Yankees’ traditional home run strength taking a backseat. But in trying to replace it, they neither managed substantial contact nor adeptly got runners on base, revealing deeper issues.
The Road Ahead for the Yankees’ Analytics
The third-party evaluation will likely pinpoint the Yankees’ challenges in crafting a strategy using the data they have. This could stem from an algorithm that narrows down the player selection based on a specific set of attributes. A shift in approach to encompass a more diverse pool of players will be imperative for the Yankees as they gear up for future seasons.