Why is Reggie Jackson with the Astros? It’s for the old-fashioned view.


Analytics was a key part of transforming the Astros from a struggling franchise in the early 2010s to a dynasty-level organization by the end of the decade.

But even as his team play their third World Series in five years, after winning the 2017 title, Astros owner Jim Crane is far from satisfied.

He says he wants his team to be better than the rest of Major League Baseball, top to bottom.

Take them out smart. Think about it. Play them.

This is one of the reasons Crane hired Hall of Fame member Reggie Jackson as special advisor. He wants to know more.

Crane insisted that old-school baseball knowledge be included in the assessment process. This goes against the Astros’ analytical reputation.

A former college pitcher, Crane has never been comfortable handing his baseball business over to staff who know the numbers, not baseball, the data, not people, spreadsheets, not slit fingers.

So Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Enos Cabell and Jackson are on the Astros’ payroll to give Crane an added edge in personnel decisions and even strategy.

Crane is a practical leader, who also listens.

Crane’s desire for more information, a qualitative view so to speak, does not fit the analytical model.

“I don’t know if it’s against, it’s a different point of view, an additional point of view,” Jackson said.

Former Astros CEO Jeff Luhnow, who designed a remarkable teardown and rebuild following an analytical plan, was reluctant to include emotionally motivated breakdowns or ‘eye tests’ in the analysis of the team.

His approach was all about numbers, numbers, numbers.

The click is more receptive.

“James Click is a good listener, but definitely Jim wants the baseball data, he wants it to be quantified and he wants it to be weighted by a certain amount, because the experience is proven,” Jackson said.

How much of a difference do the eyes of people who have played the game make?

Jackson says Crane’s inner circle baseball experience is invaluable.

It’s not unusual to see Jackson talking to players before they take their turn in the cage in batting practice, or discussing hitting techniques with the Astros hitting coaches, like he did. before Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday between the Astros and the Braves.

“We’re probably talking about 150 years of experience,” Jackson said. “I think you can measure it. It counts for a lot more than some numbers. “

When it comes to recruiting players, the numbers can tell you a lot about their potential. Sometimes people can tell you more about a player’s potential for greatness.

Jackson says numbers alone can’t convince you if a player will show up every day ready to play.

“You want a guy who will post every game for you, dress every day,” Jackson said. “Be a leader when he’s exhausted.

“How much does a guy care about his team? How much does he care about his money? Numbers cannot do all of this.

Crane says many of the Astros’ major editorial mistakes under his ownership are due to letting the numbers speak too much.

Jackson has fun with the numbers, challenging players like Carlos Correa to be as good as Mr. October.

Crane and Jackson have been friends for as long as Crane has owned the Astros. The two spent hours on the golf course.

And they spent hours working on community issues. Jackson said he was excited to be in Houston to work for Crane.

“Jim is a self-made guy, a self-made billionaire, and very, very successful in all of his endeavors,” Jackson said. “He’s a great leader and you respect the decisions he makes.

“You want to follow him. You look forward to his leadership and energy. I admire the guy and feel lucky to be here with him and lucky to be his friend. He’s a special guy.

And smart enough to know what he doesn’t know.

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