Nomar Garciaparra Blasts Launch Angle, Interpretation Of Analytics

Many former big leaguers have a complicated relationship with sabermetrics, and Nomar Garciaparra is no exception

Tiki and Tierney
October 30, 2018 - 9:00 am

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Many former big leaguers have a complicated relationship with sabermetrics, and Nomar Garciaparra is no exception.

“I changed my narrative," the six-time All-Star said on Tiki and Tierney. "Early on, I used to say, ‘Gosh, these sabermetrics, it’s ruining the game.’ Sabermetrics is not ruining the game. Statistics are not ruining the game – because they’re always there. It’s going to continually being there. It's the misinterpretation of the analytics that is hurting the game right now. That’s truly what it is. It’s not the numbers themselves. It's the misinterpretation. The teams that are being successful, they’re going to have the numbers, but I guarantee you now they recognize the old-school mind. They’re now able to quantify what they weight heavily on, what they find important.”

Take OBP, for example. Yes, you want to get on base, but you also want to score runs.

“It was always about On Base Percentage,” Garciaparra said. “They interpreted it as you should just take pitches and walk. No, you get hits to get on base, and by getting hits – by swinging the bat and finding ways to get on – you’re going to affect the game in so many other ways. So I'm not looking at somebody just to walk. I don’t want somebody to walk. I want somebody that’s able to handle the strike zone, swing at strikes, put the ball in play and produce something. 

“There was a misinterpretation,” Garciaparra continued. “I want On Base Percentage at the top of my lineup, but I don’t necessarily need it in the middle of my lineup. I don’t want that guy to walk when he’s got two guys in scoring position. I want that guy to drive someone in. That’s a little bit different.”

And don’t get Garciaparra started on launch angle. 

“That one drives me nuts,” he said. “Launch angle isn’t what you try to achieve. Launch angle is a result. When you start thinking launch, we automatically think, ‘We got to lift and try to create it.’ You don’t try to create it. That’s where I think things have gone wrong. We used to say, ‘Don’t have an upper-cut. Don’t swing for the fences.’ You know why? You pop up, you strike out, and you’re an easy out. Guess what? They changed the word pop-up to launch angle and now apparently it’s okay. It’s a new word. It’s a new word, and that’s exactly what we see in baseball.”