Since the dismissals of manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette eight days ago, many fans have commented that they believe that the next manager needs to be more analytically based than Showalter.
In comments to FanGraphs, former Orioles closer Zach Britton said that after his trade to the New York Yankees, he had been exposed to much more analytical information than he had with the Orioles, and that it had been individualized and useful.
In surprising comments from Duquette to The Athletic, he lashed out at Showalter’s supposed reluctance to use analytics.
“The question is why did (Wade) Miley, Edwin Jackson, (Jeremy) Hellickson, (Kevin) Gausman, Britton, (Brad) Brach and (Vidal) Nuño pitch more effectively with other clubs than with the O’s and, conversely, what made (Alex) Cobb and (Andrew) Cashner less effective with the O’s in 2018 than they were in 2017? And why are the agents calling the front office to intercede, to request the club implement a more analytical approach with the major-league field staff?” Duquette said.
In essence, Duquette seems to be blaming Showalter, who told The Athletic that he’s not anti-analytics, and pitching coach Roger McDowell for what he felt was an abrupt and unexpected decision to terminate him last week.
It’s not a good look for Duquette, who upon his Oct. 3 departure sent out a text message thanking Showalter and the fans for his mostly successful run with the Orioles.
Duquette and Showalter had an awkward relationship, and it’s clear that even if both wanted to continue with the Orioles in 2019, John and Louis Angelos would have had to make a choice between them. In the end, the decision was made to move along without either of them.
In their seven years together, Duquette never publicly nor privately criticized Showalter, though he offered no support to the manager after the ill-fated decision not to use Britton in the 2016 wild-card game against Toronto.
If Duquette, who was out of baseball for nearly a decade before the Orioles hired him in November 2011, would like to continue in the game he so dearly loves, publicly criticizing Showalter isn’t a smart strategy.
For his part, the portrayal of Showalter being reluctant to use analytics isn’t a new one, and should he decide he’d like to manage once more, he’ll have to defend himself against that belief.
While Showalter would often say during pre- and postgame briefings that analytics didn’t present the entire story, he was actually more open to them privately than he was publicly.
His public skepticism on analytics, which were occasionally tempered by an embrace of them in his final weeks on the job, won’t help him.
Most old-school baseball people who have been skeptical about analytics have been convinced that they have a place in the game. One of those is the man who hired Showalter, Andy MacPhail.
When MacPhail was hired as the Philadelphia Phillies president in June 2015, he spearheaded a movement to build a large analytics department.
The Orioles, who have a much smaller analytics staff, will have to invest heavily in this area to keep up with the rest of baseball. After the Manny Machado trade on July 18, Duquette said that as part of the rebuilding effort the team would shift its resources toward analytics.
Duquette’s replacement has much work to do and, unlike him, will be able to select his own manager. Hopefully, they’ll work more effectively together than Duquette and Showalter did in their final years.