Before we get to the second day of the SABR Analytics Conference, there was a cool panel to end day one. It focused on analytics in the broadcaster’s booth. One interesting point that was emphasized was that broadcasters actually don't try to discuss sabermetrics during broadcasts. Why? Because the stats are complex and they might confuse the viewer. After the panel, I caught up with the moderator, Joe Block, the radio voice of the Milwaukee Brewers, to find out more:
The second day of the conference was just as exciting as the first and began with an interview with Giants President Larry Baer. Baer emphasized over and over again that it was important to draw more fans — especially kids — to games. Kids are the future of baseball, and it’s important that they continue to care about the game. Also, ticket sales help teams get money, which they use to sign players.
Baer also talked about how he got his starting calling Athletics games for his college, and eventually became the team’s broadcaster. It was interesting to see how Baer started off doing something so small, but eventually worked his way up to such an important job. (He added that having former players like JT Snow stay with the team to work in front-office jobs after they retire is helpful.)
Following the Baer discussion, Steve Berthiaume did a one-on-one interview with Hall Of Fame manager Tony La Russa. La Russa touched on a lot of topics, but focuses especially on how analytics were such an important part in legendary career. He also explained his logic of sometimes batting the pitcher eighth. He said he did that partly because it allowed his teams to have two leadoff hitters: the batter in the number-one spot, and another at number nine.
After the panel, I caught up with La Russa to ask him about the differences in how the teams he managed used analytics:
Another panel I enjoyed was the General Managers panel. It was moderated by MLB Network's Brian Kenny and featured general managers Dave Stewart of the Diamondbacks and Jeff Bridich of the Rockies. One thing Bridich emphasized was the importance of signing Cuban players. He said that players from Cuba, such as YoenisCespedes, Aroldis Chapman, and YasielPuig, have played so well for their teams in the MLB. He added that teams like the Rockies have faith that other Cuban players will also make a successful transition to the majors.
Stewart is about to start his first season as a GM. But he’s no stranger to baseball. He pitched in the bigs for 16 years for five teams, returning in 1994 after a stint with the Toronto Blue Jays. Stewart said that being a general manager is a tough job, but he is up for the challenge. Bridich thinks having been a player will benefit Stewart as a general manager.
I caught up with Stewart right after the panel to ask him about the relationship between using analytics as a player and a general manager:
It’s been a fun two days at the SABR Analytics Conference so far. I can't wait for the final events on Saturday!
Max Mannis is a special correspondent for sikids.com and a member of SABR. Check out his contributor page to catch up with his past stories on baseball and SABR events.