One of the big storylines of the World Series is how the Dodgers use analytics religiously. After the painful game 2 loss, everybody wants to question their system. Sounds familiar to my trader friends, doesn’t it? Let’s look at how analytics failed the Dodgers.
For whatever reason, the Dodgers thought it would be a good idea to pull the starter after 4 innings and use their closer to get 6 outs.
Before we dig in, obviously hindsight is 20/20. Also, think about all the talent the Dodgers have to work with. Elite talents like Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen can make any mediocre strategy look brilliant.
Let’s compare the pitching box scores:
The Dodgers used 9 pitchers compared to the Astros 5. Dodger pitching allowed 19 baserunners compared to the Astros 8. Net-Net, the tinkering seemingly clearly led to a worse outcome.
As great as any analytical method is, if you have to be hands on, you can find yourself tinkering too much. It can happen ANY TIME a human decision maker is involved. Throw in the stress of the World Series and the dissonance between going with your gut and doing what the math says and you have a recipe for a potential disaster. This is especially true when something goes wrong
Digging a little deeper, pulling Hill after 4 innings worked perfectly for the Dodgers until Puig’s diving attempt at a fly ball failed in the 8th inning. Something went horribly wrong and things only went downhill from there.
If you’re hit with a series of unfortunate/unlucky events, that over-tinkering can blow up in your face and make your process look terrible. Not getting that out and giving up that run made what would’ve probably been a 4 out save attempt and 6 out save attempt and it all went downhill from there. Their strategy was banking on things going exactly as hoped/planned. It didn’t and they lost.
If Puig could have caught that ball he was diving for in the 8th, we’d probably be lauding this bold strategy by the Dodgers.
Sometimes, no different than any discretionary method, things just don’t work out.
Trade ’em well