After 15 seasons as a big leaguer, Jayson Werth is out of baseball this year, which has given the 39-year-old an opportunity to pick up a couple of age-appropriate hobbies: reliving past glories in pick-up games, and hating on the newly powerful generation directly behind his. In Werth’s case, his quaint and borderline adorable beef is with sabermetricians and nerds, whom he believes, in the year 2018, are killing his former profession. Werth, who put up a negative WAR and a wRC+ below 90 in two of his last three seasons, had this to say to Howard Eskin on local Philly radio:
“They’ve got all these super nerds in the front office that know nothing about baseball but they like to project numbers and project players,” Werth said.
″... I think it’s killing the game. It’s to the point where just put computers out there. Just put laptops and what have you, just put them out there and let them play. We don’t even need to go out there anymore. It’s a joke.”
“When they come down, these kids from MIT, Stanford, Harvard, wherever they’re from, they’ve never played baseball in their life,” Werth continued. “When they come down to talk about stuff like [shifts], should I just bunt it over there? They’re like, ‘No, don’t do that. We don’t want you to do that. We want you to hit a homer.’ It’s just not baseball to me. We’re creating something that’s not fun to watch. It’s boring. You’re turning players into robots. You’ve taken the human element out of the game.”
If this sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because these quotes check all the boxes of a standard anti-nerd rant from around 2007. If you followed baseball back then, seeing “Bunts are better than dingers” and “Just put computers in the field” and “These stat guys have never played the game” in the same place again is like the members of your favorite band getting back together for some reunion shows. Doesn’t it just make you feel warm and fuzzy?
In the golden age of the sabermetric war, whole-ass influential blogs were founded just so nerds could dunk on the kind of people who valued something like runs scored as a statistic. But there’s not really a point to all that anymore. The dorks who prefer xFIP to wins have won, and all that’s left is for baseball to deal with the extremely efficient consequences. Jayson Werth, for better or worse, has no influence whatsoever on the thinking of general managers, and so we can appreciate his comments as a relic of a simpler time—a moment when people argued on the internet about a revolutionary stat like VORP instead of some dumbass racist concept like “white genocide.” The fight for smarter baseball is long over, and we owe it to our elders to be gracious in victory.