Have you ever heard the old leadership saying about magnifying people’s strengths not their weaknesses? It’s a classic corporate workplace management lesson and one that, to be honest, most companies and managers struggle with. This belief can be applied to any walk of life and the Astros have been able to do this better than anyone else in baseball. The best part for them is that they have proven results for their methodologies and players are buying in, case and point Gerrit Cole. Let’s talk a look at his transformation since joining Houston and becoming a top 5 pitching in the major leagues.
Gerrit Cole always had the makings of a front line starter and perennial cy young contender but before he joined Houston he was always inconsistent and could never fully live up to the potential that made him one of the best prospects in the league. So what did Houston do knowing Cole always had great stuff? They looked at the advanced metrics and showed Cole what his best and most effective pitches were and helped devise a plan for how Cole can attack hitters using those pitches. Seems simple and anyone, including me, would tend to ask “Why wouldn’t everyone buy into this?” I think for two reasons, you need a proven track record to show players (highly paid and confident ones at that) your system works and you also need the data to back it up. What the Astros do better than anyone else is have the data to back up their system. Apparently when he reported to spring training, the Astros pulled Cole into a room for an hour-long, personalized pitching session. That is the type of stuff that will convince anyone, Cole was blown away and the rest is history. Let’s take a quick look at what the Astros figured out by comparing Cole’s 2017 year with the Pirates to 2019 with the Astros.
The results are obvious; the Astros proved that Cole’s most effective pitches are his Fourseamer, his Curveball, and his Slider. The team was able to convince Cole who has had success everywhere hes gone that eliminating, and in some cases entirely (Sinker), his ineffective secondary offerings and focusing on his strengths would allow him to take a next step in his career and they have been right. Proven, factual, backed by numbers philosophy – The Astros new age winning strategy, time to get on board.