The annual general managers meeting rarely produces significant news, but Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos generated a few ripples by announcing Mike Fast as his new special assistant.
Since becoming Atlanta Braves’ General Manager, Alex Anthopoulos increased the team’s emphasis in analytics both on the field and in scouting and player development. The hiring of Fast signals an increased push in those areas.
Sabermetric aficionados know Mike Fast (@fastballs) from his time writing for Baseball Prospectus where he used PITCH F/x and HIT F/x data to write extensively about things like umpire strike zones, predicting hitter hot and cold zones and pitch framing.
Casual fans know him better as one of Jeff Luhnow’s first signings when he took over as Astros President of Baseball Operations. Fast began as an analyst, applying his knowledge to player scouting and acquisitions. His work with spin rates helped the Astros change Collin McHugh from a struggling pitcher to a solid middle of the rotation arm.
Fast took over as director of the Astros research and development department in 2015 and earned credit helping them reach the postseason twice and win the 2017 World Series. His contract with Houston ended last Friday, and he had already informed the Astros he did not want a new one.
Landing Fast as his special assistant adds a feather to the cap of Anthopoulos and may well affect the team’s choice as pitching coach. Fast tweeted yesterday that he was looking forward to coming to the Atlanta Braves.
This makes the off-season even more interesting; we’ll undoubtedly see his fingerprints on all future acquisitions.