BRADENTON Fla. – Baseball can become an overwhelming sport, inundated with statistics of batting averages, runs and the like. But for Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, the game is just as much about the personal development of the player as it is about the statistics.
In an interview with MLB.com, Huntington answered questions ranging from his own baseball experience to his philosophy about the modern-day baseball game.
Huntington reflected on the fact that three Major League baseball team general managers, including himself, all played baseball under Bill Thurston at Amherst College. Huntington explained that he, Dan Duquette and Ben Cherington “all loved the game, we all lived and breathed the game growing up.”
While Huntington admits that “we just weren’t good enough to play at the next level,” that didn’t deter him from going after his calling – baseball.
When asked about how the game has changed since he played baseball, Neal Huntington said that “statistics and the use of statistics have always been a part of our game,” but that baseball is also about the “bigger picture.”
“We spent so much time — and we do still spend so much time — on analyzing the swing or a pitching delivery or how we use a breaking ball,” said Huntington. “Sometimes we don’t spend enough time on the non-baseball factors that are impacting the players’ ability to go perform or to retain a skill or to learn a skill.”
With the Pirates first game against the Red Sox just days away, Huntington shared what he thought were his team’s greatest strengths and weaknesses.
The Pirates greatest strength is the fact that the “core of our position-player group is returning.” A few players are out playing in the World Series Classic. However, Jung ho Kang, who Huntington believes will be back soon, had his work via denied just this past Friday.
Huntington claims that the starting rotation may need some work, expressing some concern in the number of young players like Ivan Nova and Jameson Taillon. Yet, he expressed optimism in the ability to mold great Major League players.
Overall, Huntington reiterated a message that goes beyond just money and baseball jargon. His philosophy focuses not only on the players’ statistics but also their personal development, adding “I don’t want us to ever lose sight of the human analytic.”