Giants

Giants’ Gabe Kapler striking a balance between analytics and managing ‘the humans that are playing’

With the San Francisco Giants on an East Coast road trip, starting in Miami and then moving to Philadelphia against the Phillies, manager Gabe Kapler is reflecting on his career running a Major League Baseball dugout.

He managed the Phillies before arriving in San Francisco, racking up a 161-163 record in two seasons, which fell significantly short of expectations, leading to his firing. In San Francisco, Kapler was brought in by Farhan Zaidi, president of baseball operations, to lead an analytic approach in rebuilding the club, just as he was supposed to do for the Phillies.

As for the Giants, they outpaced expectations a season ago, Kapler’s first with the team, nearly making the playoffs in a pandemic-shortened season. San Francisco is surprising pundits again in 2021, with an 8-4 record, good for the second-best record in baseball at the moment.

As Kapler’s current team prepared for its game against Miami, Kapler spoke to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle in an expansive interview, reflecting on what he’s learned from his experience in the Big Leagues.

This part of the article caught my eye. Kapler talks about the nuance needed in baseball, even with an analytics-based approach.

“Gaining an on-paper advantage doesn’t help if it costs the humans that are playing too large a measure of confidence,” Kapler said. “I’ve never once forgotten how hard this game is. It was really hard for me as a player. The players I’m managing then and now are better than I was, but baseball is still a difficult game, and it will humble you … Sometimes things have to be black and white, but most of the time, they’re nuanced.”

San Francisco Chronicle/John Shea

Judging from that statement, it seems Kapler has learned quite a bit. Much of life involves nuance, and it’s no surprise Major League Baseball is the same.

This attitude could be related to the impressive performance of the team’s veteran players thus far, such as Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. Exactly how much Kapler has learned will likely be revealed as the season goes on. He’s yet to make the playoffs as a manager, and if the Giants keep winning, Kapler will be the one that doesn’t lack confidence, just like his “humans” in the dugout.

(Photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

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