Rays’ World Series Loss to Dodgers Should End Analytics in Baseball

This rant is going to be one of my personal greatest ironies.

I have a Master’s Degree in Advanced Analytics from North Carolina State University (Class of 2010). I have been in the Analytics field — web, business and data — for almost 10 1/2 years. If anyone could appreciate the role data plays in decision-making in business, it’s me.

And that’s where it should end. Analytics should have no damn business in sports.

It doesn’t work in the NBA (see Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets), it may not work in the NFL (Paul DePodesta and the Cleveland Browns), and it while it CAN work in baseball (Oakland Athletics and before last night’s Tampa Bay Rays), common sense should take a front seat with analytics chilling in the backseat.

Take last night, for instance.

Rays ace Blake Snell was absolutely DEALING last night. Until that fateful sixth inning, he allowed only ONE hit with NINE strikeouts on only 73 pitches. The Dodgers could not find any offense with Snell on the mound.

Then “the switch” happened.

Rays manager Kevin Nash took Snell out for top reliever Nick Anderson. And the rest, they say, is World Series history. The Dodgers scored two runs off of Anderson, and added another thanks to a Mookie Betts home run en route to the World Series win.

And before any of my fellow numbers nerds get at me, let me acknowledge the following. I know that Nash has been using analytics to manage his starting pitching and bullpen. Nash normally puts the cuffs on his starters and not allow them to pitch past six innings, and it’s obviously worked throughout the regular season.

But dammit, common sense has to prevail.

Nash saw Snell dealing, striking out the Dodgers left and right while holding them to no runs and ONLY ONE HIT in five innings. Why take Snell out after he allowed a soft single? That shouldn’t have signified the dam was about to burst, right?

It sucks to be Rays fans this morning, and more so for Snell and his teammates knowing that they were THIS CLOSE to possibly forcing a Game 7 and winning the World Series.



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