The Tampa Bay Rays are getting innovative once again, this time hiring a new type of coach. This new type of coach will be the first of his kind in Major League Baseball but could be followed by many.
Per Marc Topkin, Jonathan Erlichman has been named a process and analytics coach by the Tampa Bay Rays, becoming the first ever to carry such a title. The Toronto native and Princeton graduate has been part of the Rays front office for for a little more than five seasons now and the longer he has worked with the Rays, the more his presence has been felt.
Most recently, “J-Money” has worked as the Rays director of analytics. Erlichman will now reside in the dugout next to Cash rather than in the offices next to Neander and Bloom.
This isn’t completely new though, as the Rays sent Erlichman to the dugout in uniform to test out the idea during Spring Training. The goal: to better serve the players with the data the front office has, during games.
The move to make Erlichman a coach was approved by Cash who saw the benefits of having an analytics coach in the dugout not only to ease the flow of information, but to also open the coach’s eyes to just how fast the game moves.
“By being there more, I think it’s going to allow me to see some things form a different perspective and have the opportunity to see some things I’d miss otherwise,” Erlichman said. “Really an opportunity to further those relationships as well. And hopefully find things we wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise.” (Topkin)
Topkin makes a good point when mentioning that the details of Erlichman’s role in the dugout will still have to be hashed out due to MLB restrictions on the number of coaches in the dugout. But for now, the newest member of the Rays coaching staff will look to continue what he does best, just from a different perspective.
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Erlichman could be the first of many process and analytics coaches in Major League Baseball. As his role develops within the Rays coaching staff, other teams will likely follow suit just as they did when the Rays made defensive shifting a commonality, and just like they are following suit with the “opener” strategy. Yet again the Rays are on the cusp of innovation, leading the way for the rest of the league.