By: Will Burchfield
Much was made last winter about the Tigers’ beefed-up analytics department, headlined by the creation of a central data system nicknamed “Caesar.”
But Brad Ausmus never quite reaped the rewards, and his successor probably won’t either. Not right away, at least.
“From a computer standpoint, they’ve begun building the whole system. Last year I didn’t really even have access to it. It probably won’t be available to the manager next year. I’m not even sure it’ll be ready for the beginning of the season,” Ausmus told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket.
The Tigers have long lagged behind in baseball’s analytics movement. General manager Al Avila has embraced sabermetrics since taking over for Dave Dombrowski in 2015, but the organization — and Caesar — is still catching up.
“It takes literally a couple years to build out these programs and these systems. It’ll probably be ready at some point next year early in the season for the manager to use on-field for decisions that would help the team during the course of a game. But we didn’t really have that at all,” said Ausmus.
“It just wasn’t available,” he added, “so it wasn’t a huge part of my daily job.”
Instead, most of the team’s analytics information was “outsourced,” Ausmus said, and then it was his job to make sense of it.
“I kind of had to go through it with my own eyeballs and figure out which information was important,” he said.
As to why Ausmus didn’t have much access to the Tigers’ in-house data hub, overseen by Jay Sartori, the team’s senior director of baseball analytics and operations, the former manager said, “The system was never built out.”
“Most teams have proprietary systems they hire people to build out. It’s not like you hire one guy and all of a sudden he builds out a program. This takes months and months to do, and they have been in the process of doing it. We just didn’t have it available to the baseball operations department at the big-league level while I was here,” said Ausmus.
Ausmus said the Tigers were “near the basement” in regard to analytics when he was hired.
“There really wasn’t much of an analytics department when I arrived here. I think it consisted of two people and, really, it was more like one and a half. One guy had other duties besides looking at the numbers, so it was an extremely small department and they’ve built it up. I couldn’t even tell you how many people they’ve hired at this point, but it’s a lot bigger group of people that are working on it,” he said.
The Tigers announced last month Ausmus will not return for the 2018 season. He went 314-332 over four seasons as manager.