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How Theo Epstein, MLB Can Address ‘Entertainment Value’ Problem

How Epstein, MLB can address ‘entertainment value’ problem originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Top free agent DJ LeMahieu was 22 years old when the Cubs traded him in 2011, and he looked even younger. In the minors, he’d already shown a knack for putting the ball in play, and he made his major league debut that May.

NBC Sports

But the opposite-field swing that landed LeMahieu with the Cubs in the first place was the same one that helped send him packing to Colorado after Theo Epstein took over baseball operations.

Epstein wasn’t talking specifically about the LeMahieu trade when he said during his farewell press conference two months ago that he felt partially responsible for the decline in baseball’s on-field action. But he was talking about an analytics-driven trend that elevated power hitters with plate discipline. Not contact-hitters like LeMahieu.

“The executives like me who have spent a lot of time using analytics and other measures to try to optimize individual and team performance have unwittingly had a negative impact on the aesthetic value of the game and the entertainment value of the game in some respects,” Epstein said. “I mean, clearly, the strikeout rate’s a little bit out of control and we need to find a way to get more action in the game, get the ball in play more often, allow players to show their athleticism some more and give the fans more of what they want.”

Epstein, whose Hall-of-Fame worthy career included a curse-breaking World Series with the Cubs, left his next career steps open-ended. But he did say that maybe now that he isn’t connected to a specific club, maybe he could help MLB with some of those big-picture concerns.

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