If Derek Falvey is anything like Theo Epstein, the Twins are getting a baseball front office superstar.
Falvey was introduced as the Twins' Chief Baseball Officer on Monday and it's worth pointing out a couple of notable traits he has in common with Epstein – the baseball whiz-kid who helped break World Series curses with the Red Sox and now Cubs.
Epstein was 28 when he took over in Boston. Falvey joins the Twins at 33. Their youth is a coincidence, but it's how they approach the analytical and human elements that's most intriguing.
As Twins President Dave St. Peter put it, it's the "art and science of baseball." And he said Falvey was described to him as an "elite relationship builder."
Falvey was clear when he said the Twins will make a "commitment to understanding the metrics but always making human decisions." Influence and overall structure will be "evidence-based," but the old-school, gut-feeling model is still in play, he said.
And believe it or not, it's similar to what Epstein is doing now with the Cubs.
‘"Fifteen years ago there weren’t that many teams specializing in the statistical model to succeed,’’ Epstein told the Chicago Sun Times in 2015. ‘‘You could really get an advantage using it."
But Epstein evolved when the rest of the league caught up, and added analytics departments of their own.
"I think the real competitive advantage now is in player development – understanding that your young players are human beings," Epstein explained. "Understanding them physically, fundamentally, and mentally – investing in them as people – and helping them progress. And there’s no stat for that."
It's the "marriage of that information," Falvey said Monday. "That's when you make the best decisions."
Epstein believes a baseball boss who ignores stats is a "fool," he told the Sun Times. But "if you invest in stats so fully that you’re blind to the fact the game is played by human beings, then you’re just as much of a fool."
Falvey is no fool, but he's also of the opinion that clubhouse culture was the No. 1 key to Cleveland reaching the World Series this season.
"It was the culmination of an interesting group of guys and personalities, all genuinely feeling that they could play on the same end of the rope," Falvey said. "The way it worked with the 'next man up' mentality, was something even I underestimated. I knew that clubhouse culture, chemistry and the quality of that bond in that room is essential to getting a team to where you want to be in the World Series."