Report: divisions existed in Red Sox organization over pitching analytics

Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com

In a year in which the Red Sox pitching staff took a major step back, philosophical tensions reportedly existed between members of the team's pitching department.

In a new piece for The Boston Globe, Alex Speier detailed the differences between former Red Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie and the organization. Those issues played a role in the decision to reassign LeVangie and advance scouting director Steve Langone to the pro scouting department.

Speier paints LeVangie as a coach who took a more traditional approach to his job, using his extensive scouting experience to help prepare his staff. That apparently put him at odds with members of the team's analytics staff, who have been emboldened by the organization's plans to place more emphasis on a data-driven approach.

"Change felt inevitable as the year progressed, not necessarily because of the results but perhaps more because of the tension that existed between LeVangie’s traditional approach to game-planning — he drew upon his advance scouting background by consuming video tirelessly in search of holes in opposing hitters’ swings — and the team’s desire to embrace the data-driven model used by teams such as the Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Indians, Rays, and Twins," Speier wrote.

"Behind the scenes, there was a sense of an oil-and-water dynamic that never got resolved. Members of the coaching staff experienced a yearlong tension between the way the Red Sox had prepared their pitchers — quite successfully, it should be noted, as recently as 2018 — and how the team now wanted to game-plan for opponents," Speier added.

Manager Alex Cora is said to be a proponent of increasing the team's reliance on analytics. According to Speier, it appears Red Sox plan to place even more of an emphasis on data in 2020.

"Game-planning is likely to be led by the analytics department, a notion that will be understood by whoever is hired to replace LeVangie," Speier wrote.

It's unclear who will eventually take over as Boston's pitching coach, but this much is clear: whoever it is, they will likely be more open to embracing a wide range of analytics.

In a year in which the Red Sox apparently couldn't decide between adopting a more traditional approach or a data-based method, it appears that the analytics have won out.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub's own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.