At long last, we have a name to pin at the point where the Venn diagram of the Phillies and advanced metrics finally overlapped.
Scott Freedman, formerly of MLB’s Labor Relations Department, is the new face of the next generation of analysis in the Phillies organization. At least, that’s the hope. The scope and breadth of Freedman’s influence, as well as his ability to hire support, is obviously yet to be determined and consumed by the fanbase at large. Skepticism still wafts in the air, as fans who can quickly recall Ruben Amaro’s dismissive air of discussing anything beyond traditional scouting evaluations may be adopting the “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach.
Regardless, it’s a step toward catching up to the pack. The Red Sox, Bill James’s employers, just won their third World Series in 10 years. Oakland is making the playoffs with regularity again. Houston is hiring a bevy of analytic minds as it aims to restructure its franchise and make the ugly present all seem worth it a few years down the line.
Exactly how Freedman will be incorporated into decision making remains to be seen. His track record with Labor Relations indicates he’d have an excellent grasp of player valuation (via arbitration and the like), so hope abounds that he’d be able to identify a good player or be able to determine when a player should get a Minor League deal instead of guaranteed Major League money. Ahem.
Make no mistake: the Phillies are still behind the times. What we know of the moves they’re making to expand their analytics department, or what exists of it, is little, but Freedman is the first and only name we have to associate with this progression. He’ll either be the champion of those who’ve longed for this growth for some time, or the laughingstock of those who deride any and all things mathematic.
No pressure, big guy. Welcome to Philadelphia.