Brief mention of Jim Duquette ’88 in this New York Times article about baseball general managers.

When general managers hold their annual meeting in three weeks in Orlando, Fla., they will have to wear name tags to identify themselves and the clubs they work for. It has been that kind of crazy period for general managers.

Walt Jocketty is out in St. Louis, and Dave Littlefield in Pittsburgh, following Tim Purpura’s involuntary departure seven weeks ago in Houston. Jim Duquette did not have the title but acted the part in Baltimore and left rather than accept a reduced role.

The schism between Jocketty and DeWitt epitomizes the debate in baseball that has raged with increasing passion and disagreement: the traditional method of building a club (scouting) versus the newer method of statistical analysis, the player procurement method popularized in the book “Moneyball.”

In his book published last year, Schuerholz, who had been the longest-running general manager, wrote critically of the “Moneyball” concept.

“I was critical of the notion,” Schuerholz said Friday, the day the Braves’ changes were announced, “that someone writes that entirely in place of traditional, instinctive, experienced, intuitive scouting, there could be some metric model that could be as good as that.”

On the other hand, Schuerholz said, “I have always suggested that if someone were to create the proper balance of those two elements, that would be a good way to go.”

Jocketty agreed that merging the two methods was probably the best idea. “Blend together the traditional way of scouting and the analytical side of it,” he said. “We tried to do that. It’s important to do both. You kind of need both to support each other’s theory.”

In general, teams that hire younger general managers — and many younger ones have been hired — are looking to the statistical analysis method to the exclusion of the traditional method.

The result has been a flood of graduates from the Ivy League and similar universities entering baseball front offices.

The inevitable rise of statistical analysis in baseball, and everywhere else, was mentioned on EphBlog 4 years ago. Note that there is a false dichotomy — in baseball, finance and every place else — between “traditional” and “statistical” methods. Every statistician with a clue knows that you need to understand as much as possible about the underlying reality behind the numbers, you need to talk to and learn from the traditionalists in your field.

But the lesson for younger Ephs is clear: Take as many STAT courses at Williams as you can.

Print  •  Email