Monday, December 27, 2010

The Giants Unknown Number Cruncher

When you think of MLB teams that are the most stat savvy names like Boston with Bill James or Oakland and their Moneyball fame come to mind.

The San Francisco Giants are not exactly know for their acceptance of sabermetrics and are more often then not thought of as still living in a world before the sabermetric revolution.

However that commonly held notion is a mischaracterization; their unknown number cruncher was pivotal in bringing the key guys from the 2010 World Series run.

Yeshayah Goldfarb a native of Berkley and former pitcher at U.C. San Diego who started as an intern with the team in 2001 has worked his way up to the Giants’ director of minor league operations/quantitative analysis.

He is one of the four closet advisors to Brian Sabean along with VP of player personnel Dick Tidrow, VP of baseball operations Bobby Evans, and analysts Jeremy Shelley. Goldfarb has a hand in helping to shape every decision from the amateur draft to trades to free-agent deals.

He’s the leader of the team that takes the mounds of data available on players on the Giants radar and boils it down into things that have meaning. They collect scouting reports, statistics, video and any other available data to find the bargains and castoffs that proved to put the Giants over the top.

J Weekly talked with Goldfarb who described the process:
Take Huff as an example. From 2006 to 2009, he played for four different teams, then found himself without a contract only two months before 2010 spring training. If no teams wanted to sign him, why would the Giants?
“There were a few things in his statistical background, the scouting reports and intangibles we knew about him that made us think he could bounce back from a relatively, for him, poor 2009 season,” Goldfarb said.
In January, the Giants signed Huff for what proved to be a bargain, $3 million for one season (he had made $8 million in 2009). All the 33-year-old first baseman did was go on to lead the team with 26 home runs and 86 RBIs, while also adding leadership and clubhouse chemistry.
Goldfarb and his cohorts in analytics also were instrumental in re-signing Uribe before the season, trading for two relief pitchers in midseason (including lefty specialist Javier Lopez) and going after mid-season discards Burrell and Ross. He also helped convince officials to draft college stars Lincecum (2006) and Posey (2008).
You may not hear about the guys like Goldfarb who toil out of the limelight but when word of their work emerges it is easy to see their fingerprints on the moves to bring in guys that some would have given up on.

One of the strengths of Brian Sabean has been his trust in his lieutenants and now that it is known that there is stats guy with his ear some of the moves make more sense and you see that Sabean isn't just a caveman in the modern world throwing darts at lists of players.

If you're on Twitter you should definitely follow the The Crazy Crabbers. If you're not you should really consider joining, lots of good stuff going on there.

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