Tom Tango, Mat Olkin: Jays Saber Gurus


Alex Anthopolous hired Tom Tango, who was born in Montreal, because he provides invaluable skills in areas that are now critical when it comes to player evaluation. A very good article by Colby Cosh of Maclean’ states that “Tango is among the most respected figures in the field of “sabermetrics,” the application of scientific and quantitative methods to baseball”, something the Jays have never made known they make much use of when evaluating players in the past.

Tom is credited with the invention of the following stat: “FIP stands for Fielding-Independent Pitching (a method of factoring the defence out of a pitcher’s earned run average and crediting him only for events over which he has sole control). Its inventor: Tom Tango.” Something I’ll be trying to introduce to my analysis of players in the future. Why not use all of the tools to us, right? You can catch all of the information you need to know about his work here, and there is a TON of information to sift through. He’s not the type of guy to sit on his hands and to abide by what others say, that’s for certain – and thinking outside the box in an invaluable tool. Just ask NFL coaches.

Within the article, Colby also adds that another reason Alex says Tom was hired was because “he sought out Tango for his blend of computer savvy and baseball knowledge (and admits that Tango’s commitment to secrecy is “part of the comfort level”).” That is a key point when considering hiring someone who will have so much of an impact on the players you evaluate.

What remains to be seen is how much say he has and whether his relationship with the Jays will be for the long term. If the players brought on board based on his analysis input work out, I don’t see why he would not stick around. But, how do you make such an evaluation? And would the Jays have chosen the same guys regardless of his information? Those are the key questions that will decide whether he sticks around or not. The Jays also brought in “the services of sabermetrician Mat Olkin (a protege of Bill James, the sabermetric Einstein)” Want to know how Mat thinks? Here’s an chat he had on USA Today that’s very telling about his opinions.

I like anything that adds value to getting the right players on board without having to trade for them, sign them as FAs, or acquire them off waivers. With the costs of baseball being so high now, the Jays need to continue the path Alex has set them on, and adding Tom fits perfectly into that plan. Strong, numerous, and happy scouts, supplemented with a stats guru that can help Alex and his staff put the final stamp of approval on acquisitions, draft, or international players. As Alex says in the article, “Our philosophy is to get as many opinions as we can, use all the data and creative thinking that’s available.” Well said Alex, well said.