The 2017 World Series pits two of Major League Baseball’s top-regarded analytics departments against one another, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Plunkett speaks with Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten about the decision to hire president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and the importance that decision played in catching his team up to speed in an increasingly data-driven baseball environment. Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow, in the midst of a breakout season, chats with Plunkett about the Dodgers’ presentation of data and how it’s helped to turn his career around. “The way that they take those numbers and present them simply is a big deal – because a lot of those numbers can be overwhelming and confusing, to be honest,” says Morrow. Plunkett also speaks with lefty Tony Watson and Astros outfielder Cameron Maybin about the data presentation of both clubs and the way in which it differed from their previous teams.
A few notes on the teams’ respective rosters…
- The Dodgers informed Curtis Granderson last night that he would not be a part of the World Series roster, tweets Plunkett. Manager Dave Roberts said that Granderson was “obviously disappointed but still supportive” as the team geared up for Game 1 of the series. Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that despite his struggles with the Dodgers — Granderson posted a .654 OPS in the regular season following his trade from the Mets and was just 1-for-15 in the playoffs — the 37-year-old veteran hopes to play in 2018. “Mentally and physically, I feel as if I want to,” Granderson tells Sherman. He acknowledged, though, that it’ll depend on whether clubs throughout the league feel he still has enough to offer at the plate. Granderson posted an above-average OBP (.334) and showed well-above-average pop (.481 slugging, .252 ISO) with the Mets before the trade.
- Rich Hill turned in 135 2/3 innings of 3.32 ERA ball with 11.0 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 with the Dodgers during the regular season, but the remarkable 37-year-old late bloomer told reporters today that L.A.’s World Series opponents made a serious push to sign him last winter. J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group tweets that Hill said today that he “went pretty far” into negotiations with the Astros last winter before ultimately agreeing to his three-year, $48MM contract to return to Los Angeles.
- Mets general manager Sandy Alderson recently commented on non-tendering Justin Turner back in 2013, writes Newsday’s Marc Carig. Turner recently told the media that he declined to attend workouts with Mets strength and conditioning coach (then consultant) Mike Barwis about a week before being non-tendered. (Turner had already lined up hitting lessons with Southern California-based Doug Latta, Carig notes.) Alderson denied that there was any correlation between Turner declining to work with Barwis and the decision to non-tender him. “Justin simply didn’t have a position with us . . . simple as that,” Alderson said to Carig — a reference to the presence of David Wright at third base and Daniel Murphy at second base at the time. The Mets, of course, were hardly the only team to let Turner slip through their fingers. The Reds drafted Turner and traded him to the Orioles as part of the deal to acquire catcher Ramon Hernandez. Baltimore waived him 14 months later. Even the Dodgers, Carig notes, didn’t guarantee Turner a 40-man spot, instead signing him to a minor league contract.
- Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle both penned columns on the close friendship between Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Astros manager A.J. Hinch. The two were both played college ball in California but only crossed paths once in the Majors, Kaplan notes, before they began working together in the Padres’ front office. (Roberts stole a base against Hinch, though Hinch takes plenty of credit for a Roberts strikeout that game.) As Nightengale points out, it was current Dodgers vice president Josh Byrnes who planted the seeds of Hinch’s managerial career. Byrnes, the D-backs’ GM in 2009, made a then-eye-opening decision to name Hinch a 34-year-old manager. After both Byrnes and Hinch were dismissed by D-backs ownership, Byrnes became the Padres’ general manager and brought Hinch to the front office in San Diego, where he began his friendship with Roberts. As Nightengale details, it was also Byrnes who recommended Hinch for the Astros’ managerial vacancy. “I admired Josh for being bold and making him his manager,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow tells Nightengale. “He was just ahead of his time. The industry wasn’t ready for it.”