Johnson: Baseball fans get their rankings in ‘Pursuit of Pennants’

From Cheryl “C.J.” Johnson at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on March 27, 2018, with mention of SABR members Mark Armour and Dan Levitt:

The paperback version of 2015’s “In Pursuit of Pennants” has been freshened up with the stuff readers seemed most curious about when talking to authors Mark Armour and his Minnesota-based co-writer Dan Levitt.

“When the hardcover came out, we ranked the top 25 general managers on our blog,” said Levitt, whose day job is senior vice president of capital markets at Ryan Cos. “When I talked to people about the hardcover, all they wanted to talk about was the rankings. So in an appendage to the book, we ranked the top 30 general managers in baseball history. We also added a new epilogue to take the story from 2014 to 2017 because so much has happened relative to baseball operations.”

Q: Based on your analysis and critiques as a baseball historian, do you know why the Twins haven’t won the World Series since 1991?

A: [Long laugh] They were good teams during the 2000s. They won a host of division titles. I think there’s a lot of randomness involved in these short series. But you look at 2015 or 2014, the Twins had something like 15 baseball operations people in the front office, which was way less than most other teams. Now they have expanded their baseball operations department tremendously under this new regime. I think they are getting up to par with everybody else. You need to have the bandwidth of people in the front office to deal with all the things coming down with technology, for help both on the field and off the field. Computer databases are getting much more complete and sophisticated. One of the newer technologies is Statcast — a system that combines multiple high-speed cameras, Trackman radar, and high-speed computing. Baseball games now turn out terabytes of data.

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Originally published: March 30, 2018. Last Updated: March 30, 2018.