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Q&A: Bo Porter, Managing the Analytic Astros

This past summer, Bo Porter — who then was the third-base coach for the Washington Nationals — sat down to discuss the philosophies he’d bring to a big-league managerial job. Earlier this week, he followed up on that interview, this time as manager of the Houston Astros.

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Porter on the Astros way: “Jeff [Luhnow] and the entire group we have is extremely entrenched into the analytical side of the game, which is something I’m extremely interested in. There are a lot of values that can be found when you look at the analytical side and get away from just the numbers everybody looks at every day. In doing so, you’re able to understand the true value of a player. That’s going to help us from an organizational standpoint.”

On the interview process: “We had extensive conversations about my [philosophies] and we were all on one sheet of music. I sat down with [Director of Decision Sciences] Sig Mejdal, even after the interview process. We’ve had probably three or four sit-down meetings, talking about roster construction and available players. We’ve looked at our overall needs, our overall goal and how different players fit into our system.”

On in-game decisions: “When you talk game-by-game, a lot of the analytic portion goes into the decision-making. When you get into the ebb and flow of the game, the skillsets of the players will dictate what you’re able to do. That’s whether it’s the skillset of your players or the players you’re playing against.”

On defensive shifts: “That’s something from an organizational standpoint. We will shift different players. You look at the portion of the field that needs to be defended. I’ve always been one with the Hayden Fry philosophy that you scratch where it itches. You should always defend the greater portion of the field in which the hitter has the greatest probability of hitting the ball to.”

On third base coach Dave Trembley:
“Dave and I go way back. He actually was a manager of mine in the minor leagues. When I’d come into the ballpark, he’d be sitting in his office going over all the numbers. His resume speaks for itself. He’s a former major-league manager who has held pretty much every on-the-field job in Major League Baseball, so he has a tremendous knowledge of the game. It’s a great advantage for us to have a guy like Dave at third base.”

On being on the same page: “When you talk about front-office dynamic and management, you want to be on the same sheet of music. That’s one of the beautiful things in the relationship we have here in Houston. We have a great front office. Our baseball operations do a great job from the research standpoint and an advance-scouting standpoint. They’re going to arm our staff with a lot of material that will allow us to be successful, and we’re going to invite that material with open arms. We’re going to use it to our advantage to help the Houston Astros win baseball games.”