(May 15 column by Quin);

A Red Sox vs. Rockies contest on Tuesday provided an excellent example of how “advanced metrics” are harming baseball.

While the new metrics can show which tactics work best, on average, over a long stretch of games, they also can make it harder to win individual games in individual circumstances. Sometimes common sense and old-time baseball smarts still work best. Worse, slavish devotion to the new metrics is making the game less varied and less interesting.

Attendance at Major League Baseball games is significantly down in recent years. Among the obvious reasons are high attendance costs, new technology that allows more games to be viewed remotely, and slow play. Surely, though, another reason for the decline in interest is that there’s far less actual, on-field action than ever before. With the number of home runs and strikeouts both up, up, up, the number of balls put in play has gone down, down, down.

Sure, fans love, or at least once loved, home runs and epic strikeouts. Yet when more and more of the game involves only pitchers, catchers, and hitters, with fewer baserunners and with other fielders more often just standing around, there’s a lot less of both movement and miscellany to keep fans’ eyes and minds occupied.

Nonetheless, metrics say that teams ultimately score more runs by swinging for the fences, even at the risk of striking out more often, than by playing “small ball” by patiently finding ways to advance runners around the diamond one base at a time. So that’s what teams do — so much that home runs, by becoming more frequent, also seem more routine, and thus less thrilling. Fans yawn.

Another result is that old skills, such as bunting, rarely get practiced, much less used, even in cases where all logic says bunts should be employed no matter what metrics indicate.

Case in point: the weird game in which the Red Sox (my favorite team, so please forgive the sour-grapes aspect of this review) somehow managed to lose despite striking out an astonishing 24 Colorado players in 11 innings.

It was in the bottom of the ninth inning that metrics overtook common sense and old-school values….

[Here you can read the full column.]


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