The Nationals are well known as one of MLB’s organizations still reliant on an old-school, if not yet antiquated scouting infrastructure. Much of this stems from GM Mike Rizzo, a former scout and scouting director himself. They are not, of course, blind to analytics, and as is the case with all front office these days, the way they blend traditional scouting with the use of analytics is what makes the footprint of their front office particular.
Their first-ever analyst hire, in fact, now serves as an assistant general manager. Sam Mondry-Cohen, a former bat boy, is a key figure in deploying the Nats “bottom-up” strategy to analytics, per Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Mondry-Cohen and Rizzo stress the importance of clubhouse temperament to the utilization of their data, letting their players dictate to a large degree where and how data is utilized. The Nats organizational philosophy is more transparent than ever this season with mood-manager extraordinaire Davey Martinez helming a rambunctious veteran clubhouse that credits their on-field success to baby sharks, dugout dances, and group hugs.
The Nationals also credit themselves for mixing analytics with instinct in deploying a quick-strike offseason strategy that netted key players like Patrick Corbin, Yan Gomes, Brian Dozier and Kurt Suzuki last offseason. Bottomless sieves of data and a competitive landscape rich with intelligent front offices can make decision-making a slog, but the Nationals try not to dwell when instinct can kick-in. It’s served them well, as the Nationals have eight straight winning seasons and a new NL pennant banner to hang.
Once the World Series is finished, it will be interesting to see how this front office values their own free agents. The group includes obvious notables like Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon, but surprise elite contributors like Howie Kendrick and Daniel Hudson also enter the free market, as does the captain of their folk hero superteam: Gerardo Parra.