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“They’ve got all these super nerds in the front office that know nothing about baseball but they like to project numbers and project players. … I think it’s killing the game. It’s to the point where just put computers out there. Just put laptops and what have you, just put them out there and let them play. We don’t even need to go out there anymore. It’s a joke.”
Werth lamented the lack of previously considered fundamental aspects of the game, including the strategic use of the bunt to take advantage of defensive alignment and the widespread use of the shift.
“When they come down, these kids from MIT, Stanford, Harvard, wherever they’re from, they’ve never played baseball in their life,” he told Eskin. “When they come down to talk about stuff like [shifts], should I just bunt it over there? They’re like, ‘No, don’t do that. We don’t want you to do that. We want you to hit a homer.’
“It’s just not baseball to me. We’re creating something that’s not fun to watch. It’s boring. You’re turning players into robots. You’ve taken the human element out of the game.”
In October, Brian Costa and Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal reported MLB games last season “saw an average gap of 3 minutes, 48 seconds between balls in play, an all-time high.” In addition, the league set records for pitching changes, time between pitches and longest games.
The WSJ cited teams’ use of data to seek pitchers who generate more strikeouts and hitters who generate fly balls to avoid shifts and create more home runs as key reasons for the lack of activity. It noted the “all-or-nothing approach means that between each home run there is a lot of standing around and waiting.”
Werth, who was one of the National League’s toughest outs in his prime with the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals, struggled to adapt to the changing game over his final three seasons. He posted a .226/.322/.393 triple-slash line across 70 games for the Nats last year.
His .360 career on-base percentage would rank inside the top 30 of active players if he was on a current roster. He told Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports he was “done” in June after a brief stint in the Seattle Mariners organization, though.