The more we learn about how the new regime – both the front office and the coaching staff – are doing things, the easier it is to see just how antiquated the old ways were. And we already thought they were very antiquated.
The latest bullet in the chamber, so to speak, is the coaching staff’s use of video and related data to help players stay their sharpest with runners in scoring position. I’m assuming the concept of studying video is not entirely foreign to the Cubs, but when was the last time you read an article like this about the organization? From Cubs.com:
“It was a problem last year with the Cubs and, so far, it’s been a problem this spring, too,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said about hitting with runners in scoring position.
What he and the other coaches have tried to do is show the players what a pitcher’s tendency is, using data from video.
“They’re not going to pitch you the same when you came up in the second inning leading off with nobody on base,” Sveum said. “That’s the mindset you have to make younger hitters and people who may struggle in those situations understand what pitchers are doing.” …
Sveum has spent time in the video room with the players and said he’ll do it during the regular season, too ….
He said players are often unaware of the tendencies until they’re shown the information.
“Many of the guys are like, ‘Wow, I had no idea it was that blatant of a stat.’ … When you can look at a grid and Joe Blow, 90 percent of every ball he throws is away,” Sveum said. “You put that into play in your head when you walk up to the box and you say, ‘I just saw this, so I don’t have to worry about anything inside.’”
While I’m thrilled that the Cubs are utilizing these technological tools (that have been around for a long time), it saddens and disturbs me to hear Dale Sveum talk about situational video data as though it’s a brand new concept to the organization. Maybe it is. I don’t presume to know the inner workings of the front office or coaching staff, but I know that I don’t remember reading much like this just a year or two ago.
As an aside, about runners in scoring position, Sveum aptly articulates my belief about clutch/unclutch (namely, that it doesn’t really exist): “A lot of guys who hit [well] with guys in scoring position, it’s because they’re able to relax more and their anxiety level doesn’t get up. That’s why some guys hit well with two strikes, because the anxiety level isn’t as high as other guys and they don’t feel like they have to do it.”
Bingo. Stats have borne out the idea that “clutch” guys are really just those who are able to maintain their historical averages in high leverage situations. In other words, “clutch” guys aren’t better than average in those situations, they just don’t crap their pants.