On Friday, The Atlantic published online “Chasing the ‘Holy Grail’ of Baseball Performance” about the research being done to quantify the value and impact of team chemistry. If you haven’t read the article already, then you missed a few things:
1) it repeats the story of how Dusty Baker invented the high five, which as commenter InternationalOrange points out in Dusty Baker’s birthday post would’ve been nice to have actually included in the body of Dusty Baker’s birthday post, 2) the writer interviewed Grant Brisbee (famously of this very website) and quotes him more than once, specifically about how 3) the 2012 playoff run had nothing to do with Hunter Pence’s fiery speech when they were on the verge of elimination in Cincinnati.
There was also this bit of information that I never knew:
Last year, according to Wall Street Journal reports, a research group was granted access to the San Francisco Giants’ minor-league affiliate in San Jose, where it installed cameras with the goal of monitoring associations between dugout interactions—high fives, back pats—and team success.
I doubt the players were told about these cameras in advance (after all, minor leaguers are meat puppets who are just there to generate outcomes for the team’s algorithms and accountants), but in the event they did find out, they probably heard something like, “Don’t worry, fellas. Those cameras are just there to record every time you high five, slap ass, smile at one another, and basically monitor your every move to get a sense of how much you’re all into each other.”
SB Nation has cameras installed all over the McCovey Chronicles offices, but those only catch me weeping behind the closed door of Grant’s old corner office while the rest of the staff enjoy each other’s company out in the open office area.
There’s nothing wholesome about the goal to measure human interaction and that’s why I’m so flippant about the whole thing. Sure, I get why having a Statcast for Friendship (FriendCast? StanCast? SlapassCast?) is helpful to teams, but how is that helpful to the actual team? We’re just talking about making the front office’s job easier. I’m not sure approaching reality like you just loaded up a new The Sims expansion feels right.
And before you discredit my feelings as being old fashioned or out of touch, know that some future algorithm will register my apprehension before generating a course of action for management. So, what do you think? Does better team chemistry mean more home runs (actual conclusion from one of the studies mentioned in the article)? Will we be able to game human interaction to get more favorable event generation from meat puppets?