Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Adding Former Nationals Assistant GM Could Be White Sox Best Pickup This Offseason

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Sam Mondry-Cohen has never taken an MLB at-bat, thrown a pitch, or even out on a uniform. But his addition to the White Sox front office could be the most impactful move the organization has made this offseason. Sure he won’t bring 20 home runs or Gold Glove Caliber defense like Andrew Benintendi. But he does signal a much-needed change in culture for the South Siders as they attempt to catch up to the rest of the MLB in the analytics department.



The White Sox hired Sam Mondry-Cohen as their Major League Analytics Coordinator. So who is Sam Mondry-Cohen? The simple answer is an analytics nerd. On the surface, that doesn’t sound all that exciting. But his track record and resume have many winning baseball teams on them.

Mondry-Cohen got his first job in baseball in 2009 as an intern for the Washington Nationals. Upon graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, he became a full-time member of the Washington Nationals analytics department. After just three years, he was named the Manager of Baseball Analytics. He was promoted to Director of Baseball Research and Development one year later. He built the team’s research and development department by establishing the Pentagon, the Nationals internal statistics database.

When Mondry-Cohen first arrived, the Nationals had a reputation for being an old-school organization. Scouts carried more weight than analytics. Mondry-Cohen’s staff helped shift the culture into a more well-rounded approach to evaluating players.

According to the Washington Post, it was the R&D department that pushed general manager Mike Rizzo to trade for Howie Kendrick in 2017. During his four seasons with the Nationals, Kendrick batted .316/.361/.511 and was named the NLCS MVP in 2019.

Mondry-Cohen’s staff also played a role in the National’s aggressive defensive shifting. When Mondry-Cohen first took over as the Director of Baseball R&D, the Nationals were 15th in the MLB in errors. Four years later, they had the second-fewest errors in baseball and were tied for the highest Fielding Percentage.

The Nationals rewarded Mondry-Cohen’s efforts with a three-year contract in 2018. Then in 2019, he got promoted to Assistant General Manager. He played a crucial role in translating data to players and coaches.

Former Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmer said that Mondry-Cohen “really started to understand that you have to relate to the players, that you have to relate to the talent.”

The Nationals would go on to win the World Series that season.

Rizzo was quoted in a New York Times article about analytics, saying, “There’s good information there, and I think it helps not only in advancing for a team but also in developing players. We need it, we want it, we embrace it, and we don’t make a decision without it.”

Mondry-Cohen left the organization in 2021 after spending 13 years in D.C. Last season, he served as a consultant for the National League Champion, Philadelphia Phillies. He was also an executive in residence at a biomechanics company called Reboot Motion and a senior fellow at Wharton’s Sports analytics and business initiative at the University of Pennsylvania.

Now he will shift his focus toward the White Sox, which historically has one of baseball’s smallest analytics departments. According to James Fegan of The Athletic, his role will be as an offensive complement to the assistant director of baseball operations, Rod Larson. Larson travels with the team and frequently works with pitchers using Rapsodos and high-speed cameras to fine-tune their deliveries.

The White Sox adding talent to their analytics highlights a change in culture in the front office’s way of thinking. Take the hiring of Pedro Grifol, for example. During his opening press conference, he emphasized the importance of Sox hitters having a baseline understanding of analytics. He has also repeatedly talked about preparation for games and how he wants the White Sox to be prepared for everything they will see on a nightly basis.

“I think you’re going to see something a lot different from what we had in the past,” Grifol said.

The addition of Mondry-Cohen shows that the White Sox put their money where their mouth is. They are embracing analytics. Of course, you can have all the analytics in the world, but it only translates into many wins if you have good players. I will be the first to admit that I was underwhelmed by the additions the front office has made to the roster this offseason.

However, the White Sox do have talent on the roster. The White Sox 40-man features 11 All-Star appearances, two Gold Glove winners, two Silver Sluggers, and a batting title. Their rotation has also put up a Cy Young finalist in consecutive seasons. The White Sox have talent, and the emphasis on analytics will only help them maximize it.

Sure, Sam Mondry-Cohen may not literally be the best addition the White Sox have made this offseason as far as on-the-field impact. But he represents another huge step in the right direction.

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DA Doherty
DA Doherty
Jan 20, 2023 6:25 am

Wouldn’t the best hire be James Click xGM of the Astros?

todd
todd
Jan 17, 2023 5:47 pm

my thoughts? my thought is as long as the white sox “culture” is lead by jerry reinsdorf the sox will continue to go no where.

Billy
Billy
Jan 17, 2023 12:30 pm

Maybe he can help them draft players that will actually be good major leaguers!

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