Mets' Callaway: We Go Against Analytics 85% Of Time

Ryan Chatelain
August 16, 2019 - 10:53 am
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Don't expect Mickey Callaway to write the sequel to "Moneyball."

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In an era when data dominate baseball decisions, the Mets manager made some eyebrow-raising comments when he told reporters before Thursday night's game in Atlanta that "I bet 85% of our decisions go against the analytics."

"And that's how it's always going to be, because that is just on paper," Callaway said. "It doesn't take into account the person as a human being, how he performs in these big spots, all these things that a manager looks at. So you’re going against analytics most of the time."

Callaway made the comments while defending his decision to remove Steven Matz after the sixth inning Wednesday night against Atlanta and replace him with Seth Lugo. Matz had his team up 2-1, allowed just two hits and retired 14 straight batters. The usually reliable Lugo then gave up four runs in the seventh inning, and the Mets lost 6-4.

Mickey Callaway
USA Today Images

"It can be challenging," Callaway said. "There is a reason a lot of teams are going on analytics, because it says, ‘This guy for this spot, this guy for that spot.’ That doesn’t always work, we all know that.

"You have to understand what is going on with a player lately. That has to come into play, so it does add a little bit of a dynamic if certain struggles are there, but that is what you have to deal with, so we’ll continue to try to make the best decisions we possibly can and hopefully we get performance from it."

Callaway's views on analytics are common among its critics. But teams are relying more and more on the numbers nevertheless.

After being hired in October, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen talked about the Mets investing more in analytics. Weeks later, he hired Adam Guttridge, co-founder of the baseball analytics company NEIFI, as assistant general manager of systematic development.

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Was all that really done with the idea in mind that Callaway would only listen 15% of the time? 

The Mets' skipper did explain when he thinks using the math makes sense.

"I think there’s something to be said when all things are equal and you’re really taking all these things into consideration and the decision still feels very equal," he said. "Then OK. Let’s lean on, what does the matchup look like? What is the projection that our analytics department is coming up with? What does it look like? And if it’s a lot of points one way or the other, I think that’s something to take into consideration to try and make a better decision."

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