A Computer Can't Manage A Game
(Photo Credit behnace.net/jackridenour)
If you believed in the theory that robots and computers will take over the human race, it was just debunked Monday night after Game 6 of the World Series.
First, let me say congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers on winning a unique World Series. Especially Clayton Kershaw getting the monkey off his back and proving he can pitch and win in the postseason. Personally, as much as I despise the LA Dodgers, I must say they were a fun and entertaining squad this year for any baseball fan to watch. (But I still hate them).
And as much as I think the Dodgers deserve all the credit in the world, the story/event that everyone is talking about was Kevin Cash pulling his starting pitcher, Blake Snell in the sixth inning. When Snell was pulled his pitch count was at 73, with 6 strikeouts, 2 hits, and 0 walks. Blake Snell was absolutely dealing the whole game. It was a performance the Rays needed to force a Game 7. But this is how the Rays win games, by going to the bullpen. They did all year last year and now this season. They have also been playing the analytics game. And that's all great, it gives you all the details you could need to get wins throughout the season. But there has got to be a point where the human element takes over and the analytics don't matter anymore. That should've happened Monday night. Analytics told Kevin Cash that the third time through the Dodgers lineup, they would be able to start to hit and get some runs. That's just a generalization, but the bottom line tells Cash to pull Blake Snell even though the analytics didn't realize that the next three batters coming up for the Dodgers were 0-6 with 6 strikeouts.
You can 'Moneyball' this game all you want. You can get every Ivy League Grad in the world and they will give you all the answers on what you should do in a baseball game. But this game will never ever be defined to be an analytics game. The human element will always take over. If it didn't then why do we have managers in the first place? We can just get a computer out there and it can tell us all the answers and how to play the game. Kevin Cash should've said, "Screw what the analytics say, my guy, is dealing and keeping us in this".
What really sucks about all of this, is that I think this series was too good to only go 6 games. This series needed and deserved to go seven. Everyone counted the Rays out, but they didn't roll over even after losing 8-3 in Game 1. Give credit to them and Blake Snell, but boy did Keving Cash screw this up. The funny thing is he still might win AL Manager of the Year.
Analytics can only get you so far. This is a human game played with emotion. We are not robots, and robots and computers do not have feelings about what's happening right now at the moment. Kevin Cash managed with analytics and he shouldn't have. This game will always be defined by the human element.