February 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves, Front Office
Frank Wren and John Coppolella (Director of Professional Scouting) spoke at Georgia Tech today, where a colleague of mine over at Fangraphs, Albert Lyu, happens to attend school. Albert’s twitter (@thinkbluecrew) has all the meaningful quotes he heard while in attendance.
Coppolella, if you had not already known, is one of the most statistically inclined members of the front office. He is huge on scouting also, which is obviously necessary as the director of professional scouting, and Eno Sarris, also of Fangraphs, conducted an interview with Coppolella from before the 2011 season. That should give you a good background of who exactly Coppolella is.
They had some very interesting things to say today, especially for readers of this blog. As known, this is one of the more statistically inclined blogs, and hearing two executives in the organization speak about statistics is certainly something noteworthy for those who find this blog interesting.
They use WAR, Coppolella said, and they tend to use Fangraphs WAR due to how often they visit the site. It is gratifying that the guys in charge of the team we all follow visit the same site that we reference here so often and that you likely frequent. There is tons of great information on Fangraphs, and we now know that Houston’s GM, Jeff Luhnow, and the front office in Atlanta use the website as reference tools. I expected that was the truth and I am sure many of you also did, after all this is what they do for their full-time jobs.
Coppolella also referenced a statistic they use called DOM, which is strikeouts over walks plus hits. The statistic does not exactly sound revolutionary and I am sure they use it as a single tool — not an end-all-be-all metric — just like we do with many of the stats we often use. Joe over at Chop-N-Change did the calculations, and it seems to be a pretty decent stat when looking at who was on top and who was on bottom. I personally had not heard of the stat, but apparently it is used in some fantasy leagues, specifically on Baseball HQ.
Worth noting also that they mentioned FIP, which has been one of the stats of choice on this blog for quite some time. Again, no stat tells all, but a lot have value — it is good to see that this is one of the numbers they feel is valuable. The audience was Georgia Tech students, many of whom likely do not get into this type of statistical analysis, so I am sure they have more in depth numbers that they felt would be difficult to explain people new to sabermetrics.
The rest of the quotes can be seen on Albert’s twitter. They speak about how difficult scouting is, what they thought of the Moneyball movie, and other interesting things you would like to hear from a front office. The Braves are definitely more stats-heavy than a lot give them credit for. They understand the importance of scouting and developing players using methods they have used for decades, but they also understand that in order to succeed in an evolutionary business that adapting is necessary.