"He was 2-for-16 against Verlander, but the at-bats were good. We gave him that day, figured we'd give him today [off]. It's a gut feel," Hurdle said. "I don't think he's 1-for-16 [against Sanchez] by coincidence, whoever it might be. I think you fall into traps when you're a slave for the game based on what you saw yesterday. You need to be proactive with your moves, and not just reactive."
Hurdle said 15 at-bats is what he considers it a reasonable sample size. You also have to look into where balls go and how hard they're hit.
"We had a guy one time, against a good pitcher, he was 8-for-24. We dug deeper, and there were seven ground balls rolled between shortstop and third base," Hurdle said. "As you dig deeper, you don't know. There was a long time where [the basics] are all the information we had, if you didn't see it or experience it personally."
Hurdle got into the deeper data when he was a Minor League manager. As he put it, it was a way for players to hang their hat on something other than their batting average. The eye test is still important, but the increase in data gives you more.
"The more you learn, the less you know," he said. "You keep pulling back layers. We have core values, a system we follow here with everything we do. We'll track at-bats to a certain level. We'll track hard-hit balls to a certain level. We'll track all these things to a certain level. You get the pertinent information and go from there."
Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.