Gabe Kapler and the Argument for Analytics

Joe Mineo
August 17, 2018

Gabe “Coconut Oil” Kapler. Am I right?

There hasn’t been a manager in Philadelphia sports as divisive in opinion since Chip Kelly’s doomed professional football stint. Nobody really likes change, but it’s a whole different beast when you throw in a new baseball culture and a way of doing things that bucks an entire sport’s traditional landscape. Who hired this guy? Why is he so damn positive all the time? And what’s with the analytics?

If you search “Gabe Kapler analytics” on Twitter, you’ll see a healthy amount of negative content about Philadelphia Phillies games lost early in the season.

Let’s pause there, because by the time this blog goes live, the Phillies will have surpassed 2017’s win total, and the rookie manager will have propelled a slumping franchise into the pennant conversation. Sure, Kapler has had his fair share of flaws and was written off as a weirdo heading into spring training, but there’s no question that his tactics have succeeded. The Phillies didn’t implode. Sure, Odubel Herrera can be a bonehead sometimes, but the approach—the analytics—worked.

Something a lot of old heads and traditionalists are glossing over is that analytics are just the discovery, study, interpretation and application of data in a meaningful way. Baseball is a game of numbers, and one can argue that teams have always relied on numbers to make coaching decisions. If a player hasn’t hit in 20 at-bats, they probably need to figure out what’s causing the slump by looking at their numbers and watching some footage. Watching footage is analyzing data. The more data you have, the better you can fix problems. Analytics aren’t new, by any means. So why is everyone mad?

Baseball is also a game of instinct. Talk to any number of die-hard fans, and you’ll hear plenty of people argue how Kapler is too busy “reading the analytics” to realize that some decisions should be made in the moment. Much of that argument is true, only because your head can’t be down in an iPad when your base runners are caught in a run down. It’s a coach’s job to read the situation and make snap judgements. Instinct doesn’t develop overnight, and when you’re thrust into the harsh spotlight of the Philadelphia sports scene, it’s either swim or let the fans and media push your head under the water. Gabe is paddling for dear life, and the Phillies win percentage is keeping him afloat.

Maybe this season is one of those “What is dead may never die’ kind of seasons…

If you’re wondering what baseball has to do with marketing, get ready for the bombshell: Every one of us is Gabe Kapler. Whether you’re selling digital, terrestrial, out-of-home or door-to-door products, every business is born and bred with data and analytics. Numbers are your friend! Proper analytics are the key to unlocking your product’s true potential and to figuring out whether or not your marketing efforts are translating into gains for your business.

Not only do we have bounties of tools to help marry our campaigns to hard data, but once we establish benchmarks for performance over several weeks or months, we can learn about what works best, get rid of what doesn’t, and develop that instinct to make fast decisions.

Stick to your aces.

Gabe Kapler is what every manager should be: positive, transparent, diligent and not afraid of the analytics. With his positive approach and commitment to his craft, the Phillies are no longer the laughing stock of Major League Baseball… thank you, Kansas City!

Like Gabe, I take analytics seriously. No coconut oil needed. At ChatterBlast, we follow the data trends that help our clients get the big wins they need. If you’re looking for ways to improve your social media marketing and make sense of the data, reach out today!