Kahrl: How the Giants use metrics on defense

From SABR member Christina Kahrl at ESPN.com on March 11, 2015:

Stats versus scouts — are we really still talking about that? To put this canard away for good, let’s do this: look at how the San Francisco Giants, reigning world champs, use metrics on defense, not as the data stream to drive decision-making but as one among many that inform decisions both tactical and strategic.

This is an argument about baseball: that there’s an interpretive divide, two different world views that cannot be reconciled. On the one hand, you’re presented with stat-spangled performance analysis and the comfort it provides because its language is mathematical and numbers are supposed to provide certainty. On the other, you have scouting-derived information, reliant on the softer factors of individual evaluation, observation and opinion. That’s a rich seam of knowledge enriched by decades’ worth of man hours, and it speaks to us through people and shared experience.

But to put them in opposition probably says more about our predisposition to express ourselves with just one or the other. That’s a pity because the purportedly “scouty” Giants, with a front office and coaching staff long in the service of this one organization, seem to happily embrace analytics in the way most organizations do.

If you ask bench coach Ron Wotus, a man who has been with the Giants for 27 years and is entering his 18th season as a big-league coach, it seems the team has struck a happy balance of everybody wanting to use whatever works, as long as they’re talking about one thing: winning. To help them do that, performance analysis tools and metrics have a place in the Giants’ defense decision tree.

Wotus sees the information defensive metrics provides as a place to start.

Read the full article here: http://espn.go.com/blog/spring-training/post/_/id/2692/talk-to-me-the-giants-use-metrics-on-d

Originally published: March 13, 2015. Last Updated: March 13, 2015.