Reveille 10/22/12

by Jason Epstein

Good morning.

Here are several postseason go-to links to make your Monday a bit more bearable:

  • Seemingly moments after Prince Fielder squeezed the pop-up that sent the Tigers to the World Series, the Wall Street Journal’s Brian Costa posed five questions concerning the Yankees’ offseason plans:

2. How much more can they expect from the Core Three?

Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will both be back in 2013. And Andy Pettitte will strongly consider playing another year. What the Yankees must ask themselves is: Can they count on full, healthy and reasonably productive seasons from each of them? And if not, do they need more insurance at their positions? Jeter will turn 39, will be coming off ankle surgery and isn’t a sure thing for Opening Day. Rivera will be 43 and coming off a knee injury that cost him most of 2012. Pettitte will turn 41 and, though he pitched well this year, was able to make only 12 starts.

As someone who has been working at a ballpark every day for the past 11 years, trust me when I tell you times have changed. Just five years ago, I would have had a difficult time finding anyone at the park, let alone a manager or coach, who would have known what FIP or “replacement level player” even meant. Being a stathead wasn’t viewed altogether favorably in most clubhouses into which I ventured, forcing me to bite my tongue when someone would claim that hitting with runners in scoring position is a repeatable skill.

But slowly, things have progressed. I think we have done a decent job of blending new stats into our broadcasts. I don’t know if we will ever completely go to slash-line stats—BA/OBP/SLG—in lieu of BA/HR/RBI for each hitter, but we are at least getting close to broaching the subject. I do believe we need to be careful to not overload fans at home. As a play-by-play guy, I am always cognizant of the narrative aspect of the game, and getting overly clinical with esoteric stats is a good way to lose your audience in that setting. The best way for us to push the conversation forward is to pick our spots and relate the new numbers to the game/topic at hand. If a team rates highly in Defensive Efficiency, I can merely say, “The numbers say when balls are put in play, this team converts them into outs better than most.” Or if a starting pitcher’s BABIP is killing his ERA, we can say, “His peripheral numbers might indicate some bad luck this season, and an adjustment may be in order.” These are ways to introduce people to better evaluation tools without turning the broadcast into an advanced math class.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.