Eric Wedge was well aware that his remarks about sabermetrics on Monday had generated a lot of criticism. I’m going to just let him have his say — an extended say.
“Yeah I heard that,” he said. “I’ve been hearing that all day, as a matter of fact. Hey, I use the numbers as much as anybody. I used the numbers in Cleveland. And Cleveland was one of the first teams to really dive into it with Mark Shapiro leading the way. So I’ve always been a big fan of using the numbers.
“But you are talking about one comment and they weren’t there for the entire conversation. We were talking about the mental side of it. We were talking about Ackley. That’s not the reason Ackley was having issues at home plate. What I’m talking about is this recent generation of players that has come up in the sabermetrics world. It’s something that’s out there and people know how important it is. What you can’t do is play this game with fear. You have to go out there and play, and when you get your first good pitch to take a whack at, you have to take a whack at it. People stress so much getting deeper in counts and drawing walks, it’s almost a backward way of looking at it.
“When I bust somebody’s chops or make a joke about it, you can take it in a light-hearted way or you can take it personally. Quite frankly, I don’t care either way. But the fact of the matter is, sabermetrics is a part of the game of baseball. It has been for a while.
“It’s my job to see it from all ways. What people have to see is these are human beings. They are not widgets. It’s not XYZ corporation – something out of a book. These are human beings. And that’s the thing you have to factor in the most. They have emotions. They have families. You have ups and downs and everything that goes a long with it. Things you can’t read on a piece of paper. But it’s most definitely part of it. I use it each and every day. It’s not the end all. It’s not just black and white. It’s gotta be a nice blend between the human factor and the numbers. You have to be able to go out there and motivate these guys and treat them as human beings as well. So for those who I offended, I’m sorry about that. One thing you have to have in this game is broad shoulders and a thick skin that’s something that is part of it too.”
“It’s an approach. But it’s more about the mental side, the mindset. You talk about approach, you’re talking about the mindset. I’ve been down this road with I can’t tell you how many players. Some get it, some don’t. The best hitters, the ones that get on base, are the ones up there hunting the baseball from pitch one, with a focus and an approach. And guess what? They’re up there ready to whack the first one, but they’re also going to take their walks because they’re seeing the ball that much better because they’re in that mindset.
“You can’t wait for the ball to be released, and then decide if it’s going to be a ball or strike, then decide if you’re going to swing. It’s just too damn quick. You have to be in a hit mode, you have to be in a yes yes yes yes mode, and then decide to stop your swing or not. Beltre is a good example. When he takes some pitches, he does that little hippety hop step. He’s doing everything he can not to swing, but he’s in swing mode. And he gets on base. That’s what you have to do. Kendrys Morales is up there ready to hit. But he still gets on base. Smoaker is doing a better job of that. He’s ready to hit. He’ll start to drive the ball a little bit more, which you saw on the last road trip. But he walks and gets on base.
“Ackley’s going to be that kind of hitter, too. Ackley’s going to be up there ready to hit, once he figures it out, and he has a good eye, so he’s going to scare some of them out of the zone, and he’s going to get his walks. That’s the way it works. It’s not just a black and white situation. You have to see it from both sides.
“He (Ackley) is a human being. For whatever reason, guys fall in and out of it. But he’s still a young player. Last year, I thought he handled it well. This year, he tried to make some changes in the offseason. He got back to doing what he did when he first came up. I thought he was going in the right direction. But if you look at the numbers, the number of times he was 0-2 or 1-2 is somewhat astonishing. For all the sabermetrics people out there, here we are talking about it again….I use the numbers, so I guess I’m one of them, too. The difference between hitting 1-0 or 0-1, 2-0 or 0-2, go check out those numbers.
“Let me stress: He’s going to be a good hitter, and he’s going to be part of this for years to come. I think Maurer will too. They have to go back and do some more work.
“The internet and everything else, the information that’s out there, they’re human beings, too. If you’re on it, they’re on it, too, I’m sure. You hear all the baseball experts say you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that. Again, there’s a way to go about doing it where you can have the best of both worlds. You’ve got to be ready to hit. You can be both ready to hit be disciplined at the same time. That’s the mental approach.
“I’m all about getting on base, but I’m about hitting, too. People have to understand: You can’t go up there looking for a walk and expect to be a big-leaguer very long. Nobody’s stayed up here by just walking. You’ve got to hit, too. You can get deep in the count all you want, but eventually you have to hit. It’s just not a black and white thing like some people think. I can’t explain it any better than that.”