Mike Scioscia on Analytics

Mike Scioscia has a reputation as an old-school manager who has little interest in analytics. He doesn’t want you to believe that. The extent to which you should is subjective. Scioscia certainly isn’t cutting edge — at least not by today’s standards — but he’s by no means a dinosaur. His finger is on the pulse of what’s going on in today’s game, even if he isn’t always pushing the same buttons as his more progressive contemporaries.

On Monday, I had an opportunity to ask the Angels manager for his thoughts on analytics. Here is what Scioscia had to say:


Scioscia on analytics: “Analytics have been around forever in the game of baseball, from when Connie Mack would use spray charts and move guys around from the dugout, to now. Analytics for projecting player performance have mushroomed over the last five years. Analytics in dugout probabilities have increased. We’ve had data, we’ve had analytics, since I’ve been in the game. And they’ve evolved.

“Early on here with Buddy Black, Joe Maddon, Ron Roenicke, we would use whatever data we could. Moving forward, with some of the really interesting things that are on the board — they can’t help but help you, and we will apply them.

“The last three or four years, certainly, spray-chart analytics have come into play as far as shifting. Those have been really advantageous for all of baseball. There are some things that are happening in projecting pitching performance — not only start to start, but within a game. That’s very exciting. Billy Eppler, our general manager, has a lot of things that I think are going to help us with that equation of when a pitcher has crossed that line of being effective. Your lineup, your batting order decisions. Those as well.

“I think spin rate serves a purpose. If we can get spin rates analyzed during a game, that’s going to help us within the scope of, ‘What’s a pitcher’s performance?’ Spin rate is more of a diagnostic tool as to maybe why a curveball isn’t as sharp. OK, the spin rate is down; is it the grip? So it’s applicable in a game, but the broader application is as a diagnostic tool.

“There are a lot of applications for spin rates. There are a lot of applications for exit velocities. There are applications for catchers’ receiving, which is quantifying a lot of stuff we had to do by scouting up until the last four, five years. So there are a lot of things being quantified that we believe are important.

“Everything we’ve gotten over the course of, not just last year, but any years, we’ve looked for a way to apply them. If it could make us better, we applied it. There are always new things on the horizon, and there are some things that are being redefined as we move forward. There is no doubt they can be advantageous.

“Why [do many people think Scioscia’s not into analytics]? I don’t put much thought into that, to be honest with you. It’s neither here nor there.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Owen S
6 years ago

Well that was surprising. He actually sounds more analytically-inclined than Joe Maddon. Or maybe he’s just more eloquent.

6 years ago
Reply to  Owen S

Does he? I mean for all the word salad up there, the Angels shift a fraction (~20%) of the league’s shift leaders, have been poor in roster and lineup construction, have been poor in FA evaluation and have seemingly been abysmal in player development.

Other than having Mike Trout, I’m not sure I can point to any data that would suggest the Angels use analytics in a meaningful way.

Owen S
6 years ago
Reply to  troybruno

Notice I said, “sounds”. As in words. I then say, “maybe he’s just more eloquent”, acknowledging the possibility his words don’t align with his actions.

oh Hal
6 years ago
Reply to  troybruno

Are you talking about all shifts or extreme shifts?

6 years ago
Reply to  Owen S

well…….. my team,Braves, mgr likes to talk a lot about how he loves saber, and follows the stats….etc then turn around and shifts rarely, still uses the standard splits when calling on relievers and trusts his “gut” over the stats nearly every damn time.

I think it’s lip service myself