Jenks: The outsider’s advantage: Freedom to ditch the old ways and embrace new solutions for a sport’s problems

From Jayson Jenks at The Athletic on November 7, 2019:

One day in the early 1940s, a newspaper story caught the eye of a curious 20-something named Allan Roth. Roth worked for a Montreal tie-and-belt manufacturer, but in his free time he loved baseball, statistics and the cold, unbiased facts they revealed. So when he read that a major-league manager had benched one of his left-handed hitters against a left-handed pitcher— an accepted practice in baseball — he wanted to know more.

Roth dug up the player’s splits, and what he discovered surprised him: The player actually performed better against lefties than righties, so not only should his manager not have benched him that day, he should never bench him against lefties.

The reason Roth found the answer was because he had the curiosity to ask the question. And the reason he asked the question in the first place was because he was unburdened by baseball’s conventions.

In other words, Roth was an outsider, and that was an advantage.

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Originally published: November 7, 2019. Last Updated: November 7, 2019.