Derek Lowe is about to turn 40 years old, is clearly on the downside of his career, and, to hear him tell it, baseball’s newfangled obsession with advanced metrics is only making it harder for him to find work.
On Saturday, the now-Rangers relief pitcher expounded to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about his strong dislike of sabermetrics. According to Davison, what began as a yes-or-no question to Lowe turned into a six-minute lecture about the failures of applying math in baseball.
Lowe says that analytics don’t take into account the “human element” of baseball, and, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is wins and losses and players absolutely don’t pay attention to such statistics. He also says that metrics have made it harder for him to find a gig in the big leagues.
“If you pump my numbers into the system compared to, let’s say, Tanner Scheppers, of course his stuff is going to outscore my stuff, I’m not naive,” Lowe said. “He’s a young kid who throws 98 mph with a great breaking ball. Listen, I know I don’t pass the test.
“But it doesn’t take into consideration the human element of sports. Don’t get me wrong, I think those stats can be beneficial. But I use more of a human element. Where has the guy had success? What cities has he had success? What cities has he failed at? Has he performed well when it matters?
“I’m a big believer in winners and losers. Guys that know how to win, and they’re not always the superstar players. There are guys that don’t perform well when push comes to shove, but those things don’t show up in statistical data.”
For the record, Lowe’s statement about other players appears to be off-base. Major leaguers such as Brandon McCarthy, Zack Greinke and Craig Breslow have said they use sabermetrics in their preparation to some degree. Moreover, Lowe might also be able to point at his age and ERAs of 5.05 and 5.11, respectively, the last two seasons for his trouble finding an MLB roster spot.