2016 SABR Analytics: One-on-One with Arizona Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall

Arizona Diamondbacks President/CEO Derrick Hall joined us for a special one-on-one session at the 2016 SABR Analytics Conference on Friday, March 11 at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona.



Hall is entering his 12th season in the Diamondbacks' front office. He was named as the Diamondbacks' team president in September 2006 and later added the title of CEO in January 2009.  During his tenure, the team has won two NL West championships (2007 and 2011) and was named the top Major League franchise in ESPN's Ultimate Standings in 2013. He has been named the “Best Boss in Sports” by TeamWork Online and Yahoo! named the Diamondbacks as the “Best Workplace in Sports.”

The session was moderated by Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network and Fox Sports. Here are some highlights:

ON SIGNING FREE AGENT ZACK GREINKE

  • “Zack is such a smart guy, he’s such a student of the game. It was probably 15 minutes later [when agent Casey Close] called me back and said, ‘Wow, Zack sounded like a GM. He knew everything about your team, he talked about everyone on your roster, he talked about your defensive shifts and how they worked last year, and how if we bobbled the ball you guys were going to beat it out. He loved the way you played the game, and he’s interested.’ Fortunately, we were able to do it.”

ON WHERE ARIZONA IS ON THE SCOUTING/ANALYTICS SPECTRUM

  • “I think we’re heavier than we’ve been in easily the last five years. … We have a department now, we have three full-timers that are working hard in analytics, we do have a database and a system we continue to create. It’s an important part of what we do. I think the perception is always going to be that we don’t care about analytics because Tony [La Russa, the Diamondbacks' Chief Baseball Officer] has made comments. But if you think about it, Tony may have been the engineer of analytics [as the Oakland A's manager in the 1980s and '90s].”

ON THE DECISION TO REVAMP THE DIAMONDBACKS' UNIFORMS

  • “We could take that fashion-forward step because we’re such a young franchise. I think it’s very difficult for the Yankees, for the Cubs, for the Dodgers, for the Tigers to make a move like that because their uniforms are so traditional and so unique. But for us to do it, we had nine years in the purple and teal, nine years in the Sedona red, we looked for a way to bring the two together.”

ON COLLABORATION BETWEEN TEAMS TO IMPROVE PLAYERS' HEALTH AND FITNESS

  • “I think what works now, today, is the communication between teams. I think we’ve all figured out that we compete on the field, but we don’t compete off the field, and we’ve finally gotten to a place where best practices are shared.”

ON THE DIAMONDBACKS' CORPORATE CULTURE

  • “I’m wearing my suit when I first came to work for the D-backs, and I’m at a game, and this woman comes up to me and she says, ‘Mr. Hall, can I tell you something?’ and I said sure, and she says, ‘You look like an idiot. It’s 110 degrees outside, this is baseball, you ask us to buy this stuff but you don’t even wear it?’ I said, 'Yeah, good point.' So we all wear the logo each and every day, but we want everybody to enjoy wearing it.”

ON THE UPCOMING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING DISCUSSIONS

  • “It’s been a record amount of length of labor peace. I give a lot of the credit of that to Rob Manfred, who is now our commissioner. I think we’ve learned in the past that any time off is bad for the game. Of course I’m worried, any time we’re going into negotiations, but I’m confident that both sides realize how important it is for us to come together on all the issues, and I think we will.”

ON HIS REACTION TO BRYCE HARPER'S RECENT COMMENTS

  • “I’m a traditionalist, I believe in the unwritten rules in baseball, I really do. But you’re talking to the guy who agreed to change the colors and look of our uniforms. I believe in progression. … I want to promote our sport, I want people to like our sport, I want people to like our personalities and players. Bryce Harper is one of those future stars, he’s a star now, but he’s one of those big future stars. Let’s listen to him a little bit, let’s not just blow him off or say he’s wrong.”

ON THE CONCEPT OF TEAMS 'TANKING'

  • “I don’t think it’s a sustainable model. I think there are corrective measures, we’re seeing that, to avoid it. I think baseball has its finger on the pulse and we can tell when it’s occurring and we try to correct it as soon as we can. We’re such a competitive industry, and I interact with all of the owners and presidents, and I don’t see a lot of it. I really don’t.”

For more coverage of the 2016 SABR Analytics Conference, visit SABR.org/analytics.

 

This page was last updated March 19, 2016 at 1:39 pm MST.