Jenkins: Bay Area announcers resistant to advanced stats on air

From Bruce Jenkins at the San Francisco Chronicle on March 31, 2014:

The baseball season is upon us, and as we turn our gaze to the east, we find the Houston Astros taking a most peculiar stance. They not only like the idea of their broadcasters going deep into modern-day statistics, they consider it a prerequisite for the job.

In other words, tuning into a typical Astros game: “Well, here’s big Hank against a real tough lefty. You wouldn’t believe how this guy’s WAR stacks up against that guy’s WHIP.” At which point a torrent of statistical information unfolds, all about Wins Above Replacement – an effort to summarize a player’s total contribution to a team in one statistic – and Walks Plus Hits Per Inning Pitched.

The Astros are sort of weird that way. Perhaps in an effort to steer folks away from the fact that their team is awful, losing a combined 324 games over the past three seasons, they are lurching earnestly into the unconventional. They seem to resist aggression, urging hitters throughout their system to take as many pitches as they can, and they fancy the idea of “piggybacking” pitchers, splitting a given ballgame between two rotation starters in an effort to prevent fatigue.

For all we know, they’re at the vanguard of progress. But they’re facing a ton of resistance, and when it comes to filling the broadcast air with analytics, they won’t find any allies on the Bay Area’s broadcasting crews. We checked with all eight of them, and they have the floor.

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Originally published: March 31, 2014. Last Updated: March 31, 2014.