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  1. am i wrong in thinking that Kevin Millar + a computer providing optimal strategies would make the ideal manager?

    Comment by Josh — July 21, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

  2. It’s not exactly the same question, but here is a little analysis of a similar question in the NFL:

    https://harvardsportsanalysis.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/listening-to-larry-johnson-how-good-was-your-head-coach-as-a-player/

    Comment by DBA — July 21, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

  3. Off topic, but why is there still a DH rule in baseball? 12 million a year for Adam Dunn are you kidding me??!!

    The avg DH salary is about 9 or 10 million a year. Hafner 13 mil, Abreu 9mil , Ortiz 12.5 mil, Posada 13.1, Dunn 12 mil, VMart(catches sometimes) 12mil, Michael Young 16 mil?! A player only spends about 1/9 of the game at the plate compared to time spent on defense. How would they ever earn that paycheck if they don’t play the field and can barely run the bases??

    Why not spend that money elsewhere?? The rule doesn’t make the game more popular. In the past ten years, of the top ten best selling jerseys, there are 5 AL and 5 NL. It doesn’t make the AL more popular, it only broadens the gap in the market further by creating one more high-priced hole to fill.

    There are pitchers who can hit(like Daniel Hudson: .359 avg) and those who can’t. Then there are those who can bunt, which won’t show up in their batting average. If not, they’re a quick out! Why complicate things by spending several million dollars on a player who makes very little difference on average in the outcome of the game?? Upgrade the bullpen! Starting pitching!! No wonder the AL Central and West are so weak, they can’t afford to keep up! Billy Butler is the second highest paid Royal for a position they shouldn’t even have to fill. They could have traded him before bringing up Hosmer instead of giving him an extension.

    Championships and franchise players in a good market make the ballclub popular, not another insignificant and hugely overpayed “full-time player”.

    Comment by Templeton1979 — July 21, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

  4. I recently noticed that the Dbacks coaching staff is extraordinarily accomplished as players: Kirk Gibson (manager): 39.5 WAR, Eric Young (1st base coach): 23.5 WAR, Matt Williams (3rd base coach): 47.3 WAR, Charles Nagy (pitching coach): 34.4 WAR, Don Baylor (hitting coach): 34.9 WAR, Alan Trammel (bench coach): 69.5 WAR.

    That’s 249 wins above replacement during their playing careers. I know there’s no current coaching staff that amassed more WAR in their playing careers. My question is, has there ever been a more accomplished coaching staff? It would have to be fairly recent, since teams didn’t used to have so many coaching positions.

    Comment by Gary — July 21, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

  5. As compared to their previous administration of Byrnes and Hinch.

    Maybe they knee-jerked to the other direction a bit.

    Two things that former MLB playing experience affords a manager is [1] an amount of respect, and [2] credibility … from the players.

    If the players won’t listen to the manager, then it severely limits his ability to positively influence outcomes.

    The other things that have changed during baseball … the number of teams/opportunities, the number of minor league teams, etc.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — July 21, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

  6. What in the hell is this? Are you ok? Has the heat gotten to you?

    Comment by Mcneildon — July 21, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

  7. Random Question: How many of the managers today actually have an education above high school? Now obviously college does not teach you how to manage a MLB team and experience is still king but they do help you manage people and perhaps it would help managers accept statistical analysis. Just seems weird to me for such a high level position.

    Comment by Windu — July 21, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

  8. Also, what’s the deal with airplane peanuts?!? I’m flying from Schenectady to Spokane and all I get is eight measly peanuts for the whole trip?!?

    Comment by Jerry S. — July 21, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  9. Also, as a member of the landed gentry, I can only get, like, 18 hours a day of work out of most of my bondservants! I remember the old days when I could get 21, 22. Slackers. Now I’ve done got me knickers all in a bunch…

    Comment by Relevant, On-topic Complaints — July 21, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

  10. Based solely on their Wikipedia articles, it looks like:

    Francona (U of Arizona)
    Showalter (Mississippi State)
    Gardenhire (UT Austin)
    Girardi (Northwestern)
    Maddon (Lafayette College)
    Gibson (Michigan State)
    Quade (U of New Orleans)
    Tracy (Marietta College)
    Roenicke (Mt. San Antonio College)
    Collins (Eastern Michigan)
    La Russa (no clue about undergrad, but he has a JD from Florida State)
    Black (San Diego State)
    Bochy (Florida State)
    Johnson (Texas A&M)

    So 14/30 (though not all of them graduated, and there may be some missing, especially if they weren’t athletes in college — say, because they went back after retiring from play and before becoming a manager or something).

    Comment by micah — July 21, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

  11. I say it’s an absolute must for a manager to have had major league experience. It is vital for a manager to have seen and experienced every situation for years before they can make an informed call on the field or in the clubhouse.

    Knowing the chemistry of teams and the psychology of today’s athletes is imperative to being a good manager in the major leagues. I mean there is no way you could just take someone from the front office that is well versed in statistics and whatnot. No, it takes the firsthand experience of being in the game itself to be a success as an MLB manager.

    Comment by Carlmart — July 21, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  12. Why did you post tirades about Adam Dunn in at two different articles entirely unrelated to Adam Dunn?

    Comment by Jeff — July 21, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

  13. Really?

    Comment by Tom Pepper — July 21, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

  14. Major league experience by the manager seems prudent, but has there been a HOF player that was truly a great manager?? I’m thinking Frank Robinson, Honus Wagner, Rogers Hornsby and a few others were never great baseball managers??

    Comment by Hurtlocker — July 21, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

  15. not to mention most indentured servitude contracts run out at 4 years these; my grandpappy never had one under 9! friggin new age BS

    Comment by jim — July 21, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

  16. The Kevin Millar app, now available on iTunes.

    Comment by joser — July 21, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

  17. That’s horrifically sad.

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen (Dodgers Fan) — July 21, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

  18. And one of those colleges is not known for a great educational presence.

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen (Dodgers Fan) — July 21, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

  19. I don’t agree that you need major league experience (nor did I realize does the article, after reading it again – nobody would suggest someone with no experience in baseball at all should be given a job). In any sport, being a good manager/coach is a totally different skillset than being a player. It doesn’t make any sense to exclude a huge pool of people who are naturally gifted simply because they weren’t good players. Football has a lot of coaches who never came close to playing pro, which makes sense given how it is so coach-dominated.

    Now in baseball, since the manager is not that relevant anyway – sure having a popular face standing there in the dugout is good PR. Does a manager have any effect on players’ performance, or on the ability of team to sign FAs (not likely, no)? Making the clubhouse uncomfortable is no good, but I’m sure you can find a ton of ex-MLB players who can and have accomplished that.

    I don’t believe that baseball’s clubhouse customs are so byzantine that someone can’t learn them as they move through the field, nor do I believe that baseball players are so different that general good personal management skills don’t apply.

    Comment by Dave's Not Here — July 21, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

  20. Perhaps there could be managerial scores compromised of stats that rated how optimized their lineups are, how well they managed their bullpen, and how they improved their team’s chances of winning by pinch hitting?

    Comment by Chair — July 21, 2011 @ 7:31 pm

  21. He’s posted the same identical rant on mlb.com, too.

    Comment by buddy — July 21, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

  22. A chick would make a good manager but only if she was really really hot

    Comment by Paul Revere — July 21, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

  23. Hughie Jennings was a very good player and manager.

    Comment by hunterfan — July 21, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

  24. FWIW, he was elected to the HoF as a manager but was a superb player. He easily could have been elected as a player had the HoF been in existence earlier, but by the time the HoF came about his playing career had been eclipsed by his managerial career.

    Comment by hunterfan — July 21, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

  25. Why in the world is that horrifically sad? Not everyone needs to go to college to be successful or intelligent. What’s sad is 25,000 more people graduating from law school each year then there are openings for lawyers.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — July 21, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

  26. What is this? I don’t even…

    Comment by JMal — July 21, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

  27. the “conventional wisdom” i’ve heard on baseball telecasts tends to be that the best managers are former players who were able to maximize ability from limited skill (presumably because they made up for their lesser talent with hard work and smarts). i’ve always wondered how true that was.

    Comment by joshcohen — July 21, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

  28. John McGraw is the obvious answer — and Hughie replaced him as the Giants’ manager in 1924. But Lou Boudreau and Frankie Frisch had good success as player-managers.

    Comment by Alex Remington — July 21, 2011 @ 11:12 pm

  29. The problem is, Chair, that a well-optimized lineup and bullpen are really only worth a maximum of a couple of wins a year, and the same can be said for in-game tactical decisions. The most important thing that a manager does, of course, is manage people — get the most out of his players, make sure that his hitters and pitchers play as well as they can under him. It’s obvious, even if it’s hard to measure, that a player who trusts and respects his manager and the role that he has been given will play better than one who doesn’t. Bobby Cox (and his pitching coach, Leo Mazzone) earned a justifiably famous reputation for getting the most out of the pitchers they were given — and Chris Jaffe’s book lists Bobby as one of the most effective managers of all time at getting the most out of his pitchers. J.C. Bradbury has conducted a similar study showing similar results for Mazzone.

    Comment by Alex Remington — July 21, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

  30. This question is not isolated to sports. In fields with leadership progression (e.g., sales) one often comes across debates about whether or not great “players” make great “coaches”.

    To look at this further, I once studied 54 MLB managers with >1,900 games managed (selection bias, I know). I split these managers based upon their playing careers, with some designated “great” — Frank Robinson, Frisch, Anson, Cronin,…; some were “good” — Davey Johnson, Jimmy Dykes, Lou Pinella…; and some were “bad” — Tom Kelley, Gene Mauch, Frank Selee, etc.

    Long story short, I saw no difference in performace across the groups — they each won roughly 52.5% of their games. I’d love to dig deeper, but I don’t have time for it. My general conclusion was the same that I see when working with businesses — the quality of the “player” has little to say about the capability to coach.

    Comment by Jason — July 21, 2011 @ 11:20 pm

  31. Perhaps the only purpose managers serve is to get thrown out of games in lieu of far more valuable players. I think the next logical step in in manger evolution is attempting to goad the opposing teams players into confrontation in the hopes they get ejected.

    Ex. Joe Madden, down 3-2 in a close game vs the Red Sox, starts blowing kisses at Kevin Youkilis. Maybe he mouths that Kevin, “only like goats.”

    Possibly Kevin attempts update the style of Madden’s glasses with his bat, possibly not, but isn’t it worth that extra 2% effort to find out?

    Comment by ngrimson — July 21, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

  32. I wonder if there is a good way to evaluate managers statistically. What managers outperform their theoretical value? What about decision-making, and how many managers do a better job pulling their pitchers in time? What about pinch hitters? Is there something else that could be attributed just to the manager’s decision making ability?

    Comment by Brian — July 22, 2011 @ 1:35 am

  33. Robinson’s managed some horribly bad teams and gotten ok results. He’s always deserved more of a chance, both by fans and his GM’s.

    Comment by Drew — July 22, 2011 @ 2:05 am

  34. None of those is a bad school, though none but Northwestern and Lafayette are competitive private universities. It ain’t the Ivy League, but let’s not be snobs here. And don’t diss Mississippi State; my brother-in-law went there, and he’s an archaeologist and smarter than you are.

    Comment by Juancho — July 22, 2011 @ 2:19 am

  35. and, he has the best tobacco card picture ever.

    http://www.basehit.net/ItemView.asp?PartNo=15478

    Comment by tobacco cards ftw — July 22, 2011 @ 3:27 am

  36. They can’t experience every situation being a longtime player or manager in the minors? Give me a break.

    Comment by DD — July 22, 2011 @ 9:05 am

  37. The managers not on this list were all very talented baseball players. Why is it sad that they pursued a career in baseball? Clearly their current employers value the skills their managers pursued more than they value a degree in Psychology. It seems like the other managers made a good choice.

    Comment by Bill — July 22, 2011 @ 9:10 am

  38. In his defense, Adam Dunn is a jerk-face meanie…

    Comment by futurecfo — July 22, 2011 @ 9:13 am

  39. Ted Williams was at least an excellent hitting coach when he was managing.

    Comment by williams .482 — July 22, 2011 @ 9:23 am

  40. I really don’t know if a formal education would give a baseball manager much of an advantage. The purpose of higher education, at least in a professional sense, isn’t to earn a degree, it’s to gain the skills and knowledge in order to be qualified for a field. The degree is nothing more than a measure of proof certifying that someone completed the necessary training to achieve those skills and knowledge.

    What relevant skills can a college teach a potential candidate than cannot be learned in twenty years working in the field?

    Comment by WilsonC — July 22, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  41. “, that a well-optimized lineup and bullpen are really only worth a maximum of a couple of wins a year,”

    A couple wins a year is all an all-star caliber player is worth. To blow that of as inconsequential is strange. If you believe in FanGraphs Win values, if a manager could get 2 games from a maximized lineup, and 2 games from bullpen optimization, that would be worth $20M. More if its the difference between making the playoffs and not (which 4 wins certainly could be).

    Comment by RC — July 22, 2011 @ 10:02 am

  42. got HEEEEEM

    Comment by juan pierre's mustache — July 22, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  43. he’s like, really concerned about it

    Comment by juan pierre's mustache — July 22, 2011 @ 10:22 am

  44. I’d say Joe Torre. Obviously he’s not going to be a HOF player but he certainly has a case and was probably overlooked by the voters. At some point he’ll get in as a manager.

    Comment by The Only Nolan — July 22, 2011 @ 10:31 am

  45. Just out of curiosity, how did you pick 1900 games and not 2000? When you have a big round number close by, its odd that you didn’t just go with that. Were there some big names you were wanting to capture in the 1900-2000 games area?

    (Not intended to be snarky, just legitimately curious. I think that’s a great idea for deeper study and think it was a nice first step on your part.)

    Comment by Jason B — July 22, 2011 @ 11:06 am

  46. Oh, of course. But that’s at the absolute margins: the difference between the best tactical manager of all time and the worst tactical manager of all time. Most managers are really only separated by a few runs here or there. And I don’t mean to say that’s meaningless — just that managers almost certainly account for more wins through their ability to manage people, rather than through their ability to manage specific tactical situations.

    Comment by Alex Remington — July 22, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

  47. Bizarre

    Comment by Cliff — July 22, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

  48. I thought of him too. He certainly has a case as a player and is a lock as a manager.

    Comment by Alan — July 22, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

  49. UZR tells us something about a player’s value. It’s significant, and worth measuring, but if it was the only stat we had to measure a player, which would be more meaningful in trying to figure out who the best players are: a ranking of UZR numbers, or the observations of people who watch a lot of baseball?

    I look at this type of “manager score” in much the same way. We could certainly filter out the tactical performance of a manager, and it could be worth doing, but it would be a mistake to rank managers only by the more easily measured aspects of the job. I’m not sure if an in-depth tactical evaluation of a manager would be as good a measure as even fan intuition in judging a manager’s overall contributions right now.

    Comment by WilsonC — July 22, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  50. Adam Dunn doesn’t even like baseball.

    Comment by funketown — July 22, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  51. Yes, Torre is a Hall of Fame manager and a Hall of Very Good player; Frank Robinson is a Hall of Fame player and probably a Hall of Very Good manager.

    Comment by Alex Remington — July 22, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

  52. Both of you are right. Chair points out some of the criteria that could be measured and managers could be evaluated by. Alex points our qualities that may be more important, but can’t be measured (at least, not that I can see).
    A listing of managers by criteria such as Chair’s would be interesting, and it may be that those couple of wins a year are all the difference a manager makes.

    Comment by GiantHusker — July 22, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

  53. So…you have to have major league experience (“It seems fairly clear that a manager should should not be hired without having first either played or coached in the majors. “) to be a manager? Um, why? Because you picked two examples of guys without it who happened to fail? This “proves” the rule? It’s hard for me to find any point whatsoever to this article.

    Comment by evo34 — July 22, 2011 @ 11:18 pm

  54. I actually have no idea why I chose that cutoff! I did this four years ago and just dusted off the Excel book. Looks like there were only 5 managers between 1,900 and 2,000, and their average win % is similar to the group above them.

    Comment by Jason — August 4, 2011 @ 11:53 am

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