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2017 Value 50

2017 Phillies Value 50: 31. Andy Galdi and the search to ‘measure uncertainty’

As we unveil the 2017 Phillies Value 50, we’ll take a closer look at one of the names in our list each day. Today: Director of Baseball Research and Development Andy Galdi.

Andy Galdi is a name the average Phillies fan won’t know. As the director of baseball research and development, fans can’t buy his jersey or collect his baseball card, or find his page on Baseball-Reference, an irony given that his role within the front office, as he describes it, is to “organize data.”

As one of the chief operators of the team’s better-late-than-never analytics department, Galdi seeks meaning in numbers — meaning that may include the market inefficiencies made famous by Moneyball or other new ways of assessing players, quantifying and predicting performance, and forming strategy around the results.

In the simplest terms, he’s there to find ways to see what our eyes don’t.

His importance to the organization, especially in 2017, is evident in a comment he made during an interview when he first took the job: that the purpose of the analytics community is to “measure uncertainty.” Measuring uncertainty, in baseball, means things like differentiating between luck and ability or developing better projection models, for example. It might mean determining which types of pitchers a batter does best against and setting a lineup accordingly.

Certainty is something the Phillies lack even as they improve. Few, if any rostered players have made themselves irreplaceable at their position long term. A number of players need to find ways to improve in performance or consistency. Others face competition at their position and are fighting for a job.

Galdi provides one way to resolve those ambiguities. By knowing which stats and tendencies are more predictive of future success, he can influence which player wins a highly contested outfield spot. By using other data – spin rates, heat maps, all manner of tabular and graphed statistics – he can find and explain the things a player does well or poorly and take the necessary action to build a better performer.

Most of these skills can be used on players outside the organization, too, meaning his number crunching plays a part in scouting, approach and player acquisitions. The metrics might see something in a player other teams are missing, leading to a decision to sign or trade for him.

He will have long-term impact from immediate contributions — some of which he’s already made and others he’ll make in the year ahead.

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