View Full Version : Tactical evolution

04-20-2006, 10:36 PM
I got into a heated discussion tonight with an old friend about Gene Mauch.

When we compare players of different eras, it is wise to judge them against their peers. Baseball has changed so many times over the years.... the pitching performances of the '60's hold a different relevance to the current six inning and out norms.

It's simply not fair to consider all eras as being equal when looking strictly at numbers. That's one of the things I appreciate most when WOY is citing statistics.... he generally shows them relative to the league average in the period he's discussing.

And it occurred to me that we should do the same when considering managers too. I see a lot of derision towards Gene Mauch whenever he is mentioned. He was my favorite manager when I was a kid. Nobody embodied the "thinking man's" manager more than Mauch. But today he's often ridiculed for his small ball tendencies and "overmanaging".

The game was different then. Pitching and defense weighed much more heavily than offense, and runs were scarce and precious commodities. The tactics of the day reflected these realities.

I believe that the context of the era being observed is just as important to managing styles as it is to player performance. The ebbs and flows of baseball never stop evolving, redefining style and substance of both the players and tacticians.

It's my belief that Mauch would have adapted to today's game and changed his style accordingly. He was a brilliant man, as baseball men go. He would have managed differently given today's sensibilities, IMO. It's not adherance to dogma that make the brightest baseball minds shine. It's the willingness to evolve, adapt, and embrace change, ahead of the herd, that makes men like Rickey and Mauch thrive.

04-21-2006, 05:17 PM
Excellent post.

I was talking to a buddy the other day about similar situations. And we've discussed them on here too....

would a player of today, or even yesteryear, have the same level of success playing in a different era?

Would a Clemens be as successful pitching in the dead ball era? A Walter Johnson today?

If Clemens was able to travel back in time, carrying with him the knowledge he had today (where conditioning/training/work regime is emphasized), then yes, he'd probably succeed.

But if Clemens had been xsimply born back then, when times and environment did not emphasize them, then who is to say?

Would a Walter Johnson or Lefty Grove had been even better with today's emphasis on conditioning? How about a Sandy Koufax with the advent of Tommy John surgery?

I think any comparisons between players of different eras is unfair, and really, IMO, cannot be objective.

How would a Willy Mays perform today?