A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora are back in baseball. These two World Series-winning managers were suspended as a result of their roles in cheating scandals surrounding the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox. They’re out of time-out now, and will soon be back in an MLB dugout, Hinch for the Detroit Tigers and Cora back with the Red Sox.
And why is it that they will be back in MLB dugouts? ‘Cause they’re both really good at managing a baseball team. That’s pretty much all that matters, folks.
You’ve probably heard the stories behind A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora’s sins during the cheating scandal. The Astros created an elaborate sign-stealing operation that seemed to pay dividends during their run to two World Series appearances, which Cora was heavily involved with. Hinch did not have as much blood on his hands, but he knew about it and didn’t do much to stop it.
Both were fired and suspended for the 2020 season, though you can make the case Cora deserved far worse. He took these tactics championed in Houston to Boston, when he was hired as the Red Sox manager in 2018. Regardless, they both paid the price handed down to them.
They were then hired shortly after their suspension ended following the 2020 World Series. This has made some people’s heads explode, for baseball purists do not want proven cheaters soiling their sacred game.
Well, sorry. Both deserve to be managers. You’d probably end up satisfied if they were managing your team. So grow up.
Built for Today
A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora are built for modern-day baseball. Both know how to analyze and maximize the information that analytics provides. They are tacticians, and effective baseball tactics in 2020 demand that a manager know the ins and outs of advanced metrics.
There is a distinction between them and the Kevin Cashes of the world, though; they also manage based off feel.
This has been a hot topic since Cash’s now infamous pitching change in Game 6 of the World Series, pulling a dominant Blake Snell after 73 pitches. He made the change based on a game script produced before the game; it didn’t matter how well Snell was pitching.
Cash’s controversial decision opened up a discussion about how best to balance traditional managing techniques, which often rely on instinct, with modern practices, which rely on number-crunching. The consensus seems to be that there is a time and place for both, and the best managers are those who know when to trust the computers and when to trust their guts. I agree with this conclusion.
Hinch and Cora both know how to do this. That’s why they both have World Series rings and a combined winning percentage of .566.
They Deserve Second Chances
In the grand scheme of things, is stealing signs really cause for someone to never work in baseball again? Let’s get off our high horse for a second. Stealing signs is as old a practice as the sport itself. Where they erred was in their methods, which used technology to gain an edge. That’s when gamesmanship veers into cheating, which is why they paid a significant price for their actions. But fuck, man, they didn’t kill anyone. Their players weren’t all juicing. They were’t throwing games on purpose, ala the 1919 White Sox. You can do a lot worse in baseball than stealing signs.
To be clear, knowing what’s coming is indisputably an unfair advantage for the hitter, but there is no denying that Cora and Hinch’s teams were well-built and well-managed. Assistants like being by their side and players go to war for them. That’s what you want from a manager.
The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox are in good hands with A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora leading them, respectively. I expect these franchises to be contenders in the years to come.
And we’re just all gonna have to deal with that.