LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Alex Anthopoulos spent the past two seasons serving as the Dodgers' vice president of baseball operations, he gained a greater appreciation for the enhanced analytics approach the Braves were planning to take long before they knew their baseball operations staff would assume new leadership."It
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Alex Anthopoulos spent the past two seasons serving as the Dodgers' vice president of baseball operations, he gained a greater appreciation for the enhanced analytics approach the Braves were planning to take long before they knew their baseball operations staff would assume new leadership.
"It was eye-opening for me," Anthopoulos said. "That was the appeal. It's not a panacea for anything. You still need great players, and obviously Los Angeles has great players and great acquisitions. Most of all, it's up to the player. We're not doing our job if we're not doing everything we can to provide them the resources to improve their performance."
Braves CEO and chairman Terry McGuirk spoke about the need to enhance his team's analytics efforts near the end of the regular season, before he knew the former general manager would be replaced by Anthopoulos, who was part of the elite front-office staff former Braves team president Stan Kasten formed in Los Angeles.
Yes, the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw and a payroll that has rested around $250 million for the past two seasons, but their strong supporting cast and ability to consistently develop sound game plans has been significantly influenced by an understanding of how to prioritize and communicate the analytics that are available -- and not necessarily best implemented by all Major League clubs.
"There was a philosophy [with the Dodgers] to get the maximum you could out of every single player," Anthopoulos said. "It's not always going to work, but if we can make these guys better, whether it be one per cent or five percent, we're going to try. Where that leads? It doesn't always work. But it can only help, the more assets it creates for us.
"We'll provide information as a front office. At the end of the day, [Braves manager Brian Snitker] is going to manage the game, and it's up to him what he wants to apply and what he doesn't want to apply."
The Braves further enhanced their analytics efforts by hiring director of Major League operations Alex Tamin and assistant GM Jason Pare, who will run the research and development department. Tamin, Pare and Anthopoulos discussed their plans as they met with Snitker and bench coach Walt Weiss during this week's Winter Meetings.
Some of the information will benefit Snitker and his coaches as they choose lineup structures or develop game plans based on the tendencies of both Atlanta's players and its opponents. He seems most excited about the benefit players could gain as they make preparations with a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
"It's not going to be negative stuff to these guys, either. It's going to be things that can help them to get better, and it will be up to them what they want to grab hold of and use," Snitker said. "It's going to be good for them. It's going to give them another avenue to try and to improve their game. So I think they're going to like it."
While the Braves have steadily attempted to bolster their analytics approach over the past year, the manner in which Anthopoulos and his staff were able to convey their plans and messages this week seemed to give Snitker a better understanding of how to apply the information.
"This will be nothing but a positive addition for us," Snitker said. "They made it very clear they're not going to ram things down your throat."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.