Angels GM Billy Eppler is completely over the analytics debate

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  • Billy Eppler
    American baseball executive

If you have a strong opinion about analytics in baseball that you were thinking about sharing with Billy Eppler, you might want to hold off on that. The new general manager of the Los Angeles Angels is growing tired of that conversation, or more specifically the debates that tend to follow, because he doesn't feel it's necessary to pick a side and fight.

According to Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times, Eppler made that much clear while attending a SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix on Friday. At the time, Eppler was discussing his relationship with Angels' manager Mike Scioscia, a man most have pegged as old school with more of a dependence on scouting. Eppler insisted a little bit of everything is taken into account when evaluations are made, and that includes Sciosica studying all forms of advanced stats.

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He also made it clear that he believes happiness, a healthy business relationship and the basis for success reside in the gray area between statistical analysis and scouting, and that's where he intends to stay.

"The analytics vs. scouting thing, it's so tired," Eppler said on Friday. "It's so East Coast-West Coast rap. Uncle. Uncle, you know what I mean?

"It's almost like you have to be Republican or Democrat. Are you East Coast rap or West Coast? Are you for stats or are you for scouting? I don't know. Can I really be in between? Because I am.

"It's only black and white. Nobody wants gray, but gray's the best. That's what makes this game great. There is no absolute."

(AP)
(AP)

Eppler used some interesting analogies there, but he got his point across.

It seems likely that most baseball executives share Eppler's feelings. That there are benefits to observing, studying and considering as much information as possible before making evaluations and decisions. It also seems like those debating the merits of one over the other are now on the outside looking in, either too eager to move into the future or completely unwilling to budge from their old school mentality.

Of course, there have also been instances where stubbornness one way or the other has won out within a major-league front office. Despite his recent attempt to dispel it, former Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. seemed to lean strongly on his scouts and ended up missing some key signs of his team's quick decline. It's a matter of comfort for some, but the more the game changes the more adaptable those in power must be. It's an important cog in building an organization, and the willingness to see all sides is an important factor in staying connected with those around them.

With that in mind, Pedro Moura's article is worth reading to get a better feel for Eppler's mindset and also to enjoy some of his other unique and perhaps dated analogies. He's an interesting guy to be sure, and it seems like he might be on the right track. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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