MLB: 1,092 more strikeouts than hits. So let's fire Chili Davis
Among the reasons to use sports as a useful distraction is to temporarily unplug from corporate process. Get away from Big Brother, formalities and daily techno-babble to perhaps rejoice in the simplicity of humanity for a spell.
Until the day arrives when the realization hits like an accelerating bus, that sports are caving to the same corporate process through dizzying levels of hubris.
Functional definition of corporate process: When the perceived error lies in the human application of company ideals, not the underlying theories thereof.
The latest example of baseball's corporate conundrum comes with the recent case of the Mets, who fired hitting coach Chili Davis on Monday. The Mets can't hit a bull in the rear end with a snow shovel. And the implication was clearer than a shot of Grey Goose: It must be Davis' application — or outright refusal to apply — the Mets' systematic dogmas, not the potential warts with the principles.
Or perhaps translated a bit more loosely: Analytical principals are sacrosanct. Just consult the analytics. And if they don't work, it's operator error. Because the analytics say that analytics are analytically absolute.
I've believed for a while now that analytics have their place in baseball's informational sphere. They have a place. They are not gospel. Except that their contexts are rarely explained to the masses, confusing many of us paying customers who don't understand the benefits of launch angle and spin rate. The extremism is blasted at us with a firehose, the result of which gives analytics a commensurate public worthiness with the Bill of Rights and the Beatitudes, rather than their more proper place in the middle.
Not my words here, but my belief: "Analytics may often contradict old-school notions. But the inverse also holds. Analytics often purposely create new gospels trumpeting contrarian opposition to more traditional ideas."
Hence, their residual effect: Front offices are flooded with analytical personnel who must justify their own existences, thus placing disproportional pressure on the minions who may or may not believe in all the bona fides. The result is a self-perpetuating, omnipotent monster.
"Davis was never going to be a fit for the analytic-leaning (Mets president Sandy) Alderson, (general manager Zack) Scott or all the layers of modernity they were speeding to implement in the system to try to play catch up against the sport," Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote Tuesday. "Davis defines old school. As a player, he never discussed injuries. His line was that if he was playing, he was healthy and there would be no excuses, and if he wasn't, that meant he wasn't healthy enough to help the team, no discussion."
That sounds suspiciously like a case for personal responsibility. It suggests that Davis has no interest in holding anybody's hand. That he expects professional young men to assume some accountability for their batting average. And that the Mets would rather coddle.
More Sherman: "Davis had lost hitting coach jobs with the Red Sox (where Scott worked) and the Cubs because of the old/new conflict. Scott wanted to see if Davis had grown to embrace modern devices/strategies. So, he attended some hitting meetings — think a principal observing a teacher in a classroom. Scott did not see enough. Modern players have grown hungry for individual mechanical and statistical analyses, and many players seemed to be gravitating toward the analysts for help rather than the hitting coach."
Perhaps this is the best evidence yet for this alarming stat from Major League Baseball: April 2021 produced 1,092 more strikeouts than hits.
Let's reiterate for effect: 1,092 more strikeouts than hits.
And baseball has a hitting coach problem?
Au contraire. Baseball has an approach problem. It's just that too many pseudo-intellectual frauds would be incriminated as such if they sought to tweak any analytical shortcomings. Nah. Chili Davis is an easier target.
Meanwhile, the Mets hitters — and others around baseball who are allowed to hide behind "individual mechanical and statistical analyses" will continue to swing and miss. It's easy to vacate personal responsibility when the target is a person over a theory.
Ah, the corporate process of baseball. More than 1,000 more strikeouts than hits this year. A more cynical fellow might ask how the underlying analytical theories are working. But then, it's easier to fire Chili Davis.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro
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