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  1. Wait, how is Leyland a good manager? Just because he has a lot of hardware doesn’t mean that he is a competent manager. The players are the guys that are making the plays. If memory serves, I’ve read on fangraphs or hardballtimes that the manager actually has very little potential positive benefit on the game; he can only really screw his team up with bad roster management, poor bullpen decisions, and ill-advised lineups.

    Comment by well — October 11, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  2. There are also articles that show the batting order reallyy isn;t all that important either.

    Some articles show how the manager’s decisions handicapped his team, and other articles serve to tell us that managers are meaningless.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — October 11, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  3. Betemit won’t be in the lineup. Kelly will be at 3rd. Either Betemit is hurt or Leyland just doesn’t like him, but he really seems to take advantage of any opportunity to not play him.

    Comment by Brian — October 11, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

  4. You must have missed his plate appearances at the end of the year and into the postseason. He honestly has looked like he’s intentionally trying to lose games both with his bat and on defense. That’s why he has not been playing. Even Alex Avila and Austin Jackson have looked better at the plate.

    Comment by Colin — October 11, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  5. Batting order counts for several runs (dare I say 10 runs/1 win?) over a season. That may not sound like a lot, but combined with not taking advantage of other market inefficiencies, it DOES matter. When you have a 100+ million dollar payroll, these things should definitely be considered. I sure as heck hope that he is a great intangibles manager that “wills” his team to try their hardest (even that doesn’t make much sense; if a player doesn’t do well then its their contract on the line) and give the proverbial 110%.

    I’m a Detroit fan and Fangraphs reader so the two obviously don’t mix. Detroit is not very saber friendly.

    Comment by well — October 11, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  6. Betemit’s been swinging the bat terribly. Going with Dirks was a no-brainer.

    Comment by Flip — October 11, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  7. I’m also confused by the summary declaration that Leyland is still a good manager.

    Evaluating managers is difficult, as it generally requires this sort of analysis, but spread over several games or even seasons. Simply being the manager for a successful team proves little. Unless we can somehow control for the quality of a manager’s players, win-loss records and playoff wins are pretty much meaningless in evaluating a manager. For all we know, those teams all won despite Leyland, not because of him.

    Maybe Leyland simply had a bad night. Or maybe this is how he manages all the time. (I’m guessing the latter seeing as Austin Jackson has been a mainstay at lead-off).

    Comment by JP — October 11, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

  8. 10 runs / 162 games = .06 runs per game with an optimal lineup vs. average lineup.

    That’s not even considering that a manager uses many lineups over a season, and sometimes will use an optimal lineiup and sometimes won’t.

    I’m also not saying that managers shouldn’t use every advanatage they can possibly get.

    What I am saying is that a logical brain cannot accept both:

    [1] Data that shows the managerial decisions are largely meaningless.

    [2] Numerous articles showing how managerial decisions are severely handicapping their teams chances

    Comment by CircleChange11 — October 11, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

  9. At least in his heart it was.

    Comment by Matt — October 11, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

  10. Perhaps Paul didn’t want to offend Leyland when he read this article and took him off his Christmas Card list.

    Comment by SC2GG — October 11, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

  11. If not Dirks in right late in the game, whom would the Tigers have stuck out there?

    Comment by SaberTJ — October 11, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

  12. You mention that Perry had only pitched in the two blowouts against the Yankees…..but didn’t he record 5-outs in the Tigers 3-2 nailbiter loss on Saturday night to the Rangers? He actually looked okay that night….
    I thought the “no doubles” defense actually hurt him last night. The Michael Young hit to lead things off was a product of Kelly guarding the line. That was an out in the middle innings. Then Beltre hits that liner into centerfield….Jackson seemed to be playing extremely deep….I wonder if he’s at normal depth if that liner finds leather instead of grass. Then Dirks muffs the play, Cruz bashes one deep…..ballgame.

    Comment by Jon E — October 11, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  13. Although I would say Detroit’s “No doubles offense” hurt them more than the “No doubles defense”! :-)

    Comment by Jon E — October 11, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  14. My fault, I missed that appearance. Still, until last night, his only postseason appearances were when the Tigers trailed.

    Comment by Paul Swydan — October 11, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

  15. While I agree with you for the most part here, Circle, I think the conclusion of most manager analysis could be better phrased as “a manager can’t help or hurt much but he can hurt more than he can help.” That’s why you get more articles griping about managerial bad moves than crowing about good ones. Well, that and human nature, I guess.

    Comment by Aaron — October 11, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

  16. Don Kelly could have moved from 3B to RF, with betemit taking over at 3B.

    Comment by CC — October 11, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

  17. The fact that in Albuquerque’s prior two appearances (both ALDS) he’d given up 3 runs and obtained 1 out feels somewhat relevant here. Season stats are important, but in the light of extremely recent performance need to take a backseat.

    Comment by Drew — October 11, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

  18. What we’re essentially saying is that “According to my spreadsheet* and this stack of statistical studies, the best move is ….”, when we know there may be critical information we are not privy to, cannot currently measure, and/or aspects that much of the data does not address.

    When I say spreadsheet, I literally mean “data”, most likely seasonal data that is a composite of many scenarios. But, in essence it’s a spreadsheet.

    We know that going in, yet we still feel that our conclusion/evaluation is worthwhile, perhaps even totally accurate.

    Again, IMHO, the only reason why we feel confident in doing so is that we’ve convinced ourselves that managers are basically dumb, as are GMs, so any conclusion that shows them in a negative light must be true … hence the standard of proof is far lower than what we would normally accept.

    Jim Leyland is dumb, LaRussa is so arrogant he doesn’t realize how dumb he is, Ron Washington not explanation necessary, Ron Roenicke … moron. So any time their decisions do not work out, well that’s evidence of their stupidity or arrogance. Any time their decisions work out, well that’s lack, randomness, or “baseball” happening.

    I’m not saying that some managers aren’t dumb, but all of em? Even the most winningest managers? Those that manage teams that don’t have every advantage? Those that have managed multiple orgs/teams successfully?

    See how we set up the framework to result in exactly what we’d like it to?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — October 11, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  19. This is what i was going to say because i’m reading a book that mentions that same thing once again. But we do see these managers make boneheaded moves all the time you can’t help but wonder it is making a difference….

    Comment by DodgersKings323 — October 11, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

  20. As a follower of the Tigers (cant really say fan since I disagree with so many of their decisions) I can tell you that this is how Leyland always manages. I like his attitude and his demeanor but he pretty much believes in any and all old school/conventional wisdom strategies. I also believe that his success as a manager has more to do with the quality of his teams as opposed to any tactical expertise on his part. The players love him and he keeps a drama free clubhouse so perhaps that adds a few wins to make up for the wins he loses due to poor in-game decisions and a bit too much loyalty to unproductive players.

    Comment by Ronin — October 11, 2011 @ 7:02 pm

  21. circlechange-

    I could not agree w/ this post more.

    The biggest mistake being made w/ contemporary black-and-white statistical baseball analysis, is the assumption that one is privy to any and all variables in the equation…which is almost NEVER the case.

    Are SB’s valuable? Maybe…maybe not — in and of themselves — but how does the threat of a SB alter the exchange between pitcher and batter? How does the effect of speed enhance value at certain spots in the lineup, if this is to be considered?

    Just think we’ve gotten into a bad habit of assuming a finite amount of variables that we can observe and/or analyze in a “2-D” manner, as opposed to appreciating the delicate balance between each and every agent of probability change from which most managers inherently incorporate as a means of decision-making.

    Comment by Romodonkulous — October 11, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

  22. wait, if doing something can really screw things up, doesn’t not doing it really help?

    Comment by TK — October 11, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

  23. If Leyland was really ultra old school, wouldn’t Verlander be pitching as often as possible?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — October 11, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

  24. Perhaps you did not watch Wilson Betemit humiliate himself on national television in the ninth inning of game 1. I can’t fault a guy for striking out against a reliever as good as Feliz, but his bat was very late and missing where the ball used to be by a good foot. And that was par for the course this October. Personally, I would have left Inge in but there are reasons for Leyland’s decisions, even if some of those reasons seem silly to statheads others (like that one) make a certain kind of sense. Betemit is also a pretty horrible defender, so if he was going to pinch-hit, Dirks would have been used as a defensive substitution anyway.

    Comment by Chris Hannum — October 12, 2011 @ 2:39 am

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