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View Full Version : Crazy Dusty Baker stat about closers



dougdirt
03-28-2012, 09:21 AM
I saw this on RedlegNation.com (http://redlegnation.com/2012/03/27/baker-jocketty-and-marshall/) and couldn't believe it....



Part of the confusing context is the manager’s uncommon view of how to use a closer. Baker’s pattern for the ninth inning is among the most extreme in the history of major league baseball when it comes to using only one pitcher to earn saves. Chris Jaffe’s fantastic book Evaluating Baseball’s Managers 1876-2008 (http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/book-excerpt-evaluating-baseballs-managers-1876-2008-dusty-baker/) documents Baker’s severe tendency in this regard:


Only five teams in baseball history with more than 15 saves had one reliever record all of them; Dusty Baker managed three: Rod Beck with the 1996 Giants, Robb Nen with the 2002 Giants, and Francisco Cordero with the 2008 Reds.

Dusty truly doesn't like the closer by committee....

Johnny Footstool
03-28-2012, 09:25 AM
Shortstop bats second, closer gets all the saves. Thank you for purchasing "The Dusty Baker Guide to Managing."

westofyou
03-28-2012, 09:31 AM
That's a great book, Jaffe also stress that Dustys legacy was tarnished by his Cub stint and he had a chance to revive in Cincinnati but better do it quick because as a players manager his biggest strength was understanding his players and as an "aging" players manager the generation gap would likley play into his effectiveness down the road

lollipopcurve
03-28-2012, 09:37 AM
I've been railing about his push-button use of the bullpen for years. As JFootstool notes, it goes beyond the pen, too. Getting tired of Dusty -- already this spring it's clear he won't let go of Stubbs being a leadoff hitter, and he's said he "hates" closer by committee (i.e., the committee cannot exceed one pitcher), even as he faces managing without a proven closer.


he had a chance to revive in Cincinnati but better do it quick because as a players manager his biggest strength was understanding his players and as an "aging" players manager the generation gap would likley play into his effectiveness down the road

Well, he's into year 5. I don't see his effectiveness increasing. Guy's stuck in his ways and maybe getting stucker.

I like the stability the organization has had recently, but I'm looking forward to a different manager in the near future.

RedsManRick
03-28-2012, 10:58 AM
Shortstop bats second, closer gets all the saves. Thank you for purchasing "The Dusty Baker Guide to Managing."

Don't forget the "catcher bats 8th" and "CF bats leadoff (unless he strikes out 200+ times)" rules.

Dan
03-28-2012, 11:23 AM
Don't forget the "catcher bats 8th" and "CF bats leadoff (unless he strikes out 200+ times)" rules.

And the "struggling veteran always plays over the young, good-looking rookie" rule.

paulrichjr
03-28-2012, 11:34 AM
I've been railing about his push-button use of the bullpen for years.


After watching Narron and Boone manage a bullpen I will gladly take Dusty. Narron was just completely horrible. The worst I have ever seen.

blumj
03-28-2012, 11:45 AM
After watching Narron and Boone manage a bullpen I will gladly take Dusty. Narron was just completely horrible. The worst I have ever seen.

Just in case it's been forgotten, Narron learned everything he knows about managing a bullpen from Grady Little.

Kc61
03-28-2012, 12:03 PM
Dusty uses the same relievers too many days in a row. That's my main criticism of his managing. Otherwise, he's been very good IMO.

redsmetz
03-28-2012, 12:09 PM
And the "struggling veteran always plays over the young, good-looking rookie" rule.

I didn't see a smiley face, so I'm guessing you're not being tongue in cheek. This has been fairly refuted with regards to his Reds tenure. It's a tired old canard.

redsmetz
03-28-2012, 12:23 PM
Regarding the overall premise of the thread, it would seem a bit much to suggest that three seasons out of Baker's eighteen "document his tendency." What did the other 15 seasons show? Was he within the general norm in modern day baseball? Certainly with three of the sole five to meet this arcane criterion is the predominance of them, but how does he stack up against his contemporaries in those other years. My guess is that the "closer by committee" is rare anymore. What the actual spreads are for a typical manager isn't stated here, so it's hard to compare where his actual practice is, isn't it? He stated clearly this week that he doesn't like the "closer by committee." So, it would seem, do few in baseball. Oy.

RedsManRick
03-28-2012, 12:50 PM
Dusty uses the same relievers too many days in a row. That's my main criticism of his managing. Otherwise, he's been very good IMO.

That's mostly a function of his paint-by-numbers approach in general. It's not just the closer, but the whole bullpen where he basically has all of the scenarios assigned to specific relievers and likes to stick to it as much as possible. If we play in a few similar games in a row, the same guys will get used. The priority is on guys knowing their "role" rather get getting regular use.

lollipopcurve
03-28-2012, 01:25 PM
but the whole bullpen where he basically has all of the scenarios assigned to specific relievers and likes to stick to it as much as possible. If we play in a few similar games in a row, the same guys will get used. The priority is on guys knowing their "role" rather get getting regular use.

Exactly. And it's not just that regular use goes by the board. So does regular rest.

The whole idea that you're carrying some pitchers who work almost exclusively in likely losses is ridiculous, IMO. Guys need opportunities to step up, and some will. Teams with huge payrolls can build rosters that can be run as caste systems. Not good for a team with the payroll like the Reds have (and always will have).

Scrap Irony
03-28-2012, 01:41 PM
Baker, as a player, thrived when he knew his role. Therefore, he assumes all players are like him. Since players really seem to like playing for him, it might be said that, despite Redszone's preference to the contrary, Baker appeals to his players.

I'd also argue against several memes brought out (once again) that have been disproved-- especially the vet love thing.

_Sir_Charles_
03-28-2012, 01:50 PM
Dusty uses the same relievers too many days in a row. That's my main criticism of his managing. Otherwise, he's been very good IMO.

Agreed. And I would also like to see him spread the love with saves. Getting Masset or someone else some opportunities these past couple of years would've been great heading into this season (pre Madson signing).

_Sir_Charles_
03-28-2012, 01:55 PM
That's mostly a function of his paint-by-numbers approach in general. It's not just the closer, but the whole bullpen where he basically has all of the scenarios assigned to specific relievers and likes to stick to it as much as possible. If we play in a few similar games in a row, the same guys will get used. The priority is on guys knowing their "role" rather get getting regular use.

I agree somewhat. Players having a specific role is great for the player. It helps them prepare physically and mentally. But Dusty does need to know when to alter those roles when it hurts the team (pitcher overuse). Last season was actually a good example. When we were having games that were either blowout victories or losses, Cordero wasn't getting much time on the bump because there simply weren't save opportunities. But instead of pitching Cordero somewhat regularly, he benched him (in case a save presented itself) and instead overworked Ondrusek. IMO this is my biggest complaint about Dusty. It's not a HUGE problem, because really how often does a team have a stretch like that with 0 save opportunities...but a little flexibility would go a long way IMO.

Scrap Irony
03-28-2012, 01:56 PM
Agreed. And I would also like to see him spread the love with saves. Getting Masset or someone else some opportunities these past couple of years would've been great heading into this season (pre Madson signing).

The problem with that, of course, is that Masset simply hasn't been all that effective the past couple of seasons. Baker's best relievers tend to pitch-- a lot. His poorer relievers don't.

I don't think that's a bad thing.

Kc61
03-28-2012, 01:59 PM
The problem with that, of course, is that Masset simply hasn't been all that effective the past couple of seasons. Baker's best relievers tend to pitch-- a lot. His poorer relievers don't.

I don't think that's a bad thing.

Problem is that guys like Ondrusek, Masset, Bray all pitched much worse in the second half last year, probably due to too much use.

This is why it is so important to have a deep pen. The Reds obviously saw this and devoted resources to the pen, but now these injuries. . . .

_Sir_Charles_
03-28-2012, 01:59 PM
The problem with that, of course, is that Masset simply hasn't been all that effective the past couple of seasons. Baker's best relievers tend to pitch-- a lot. His poorer relievers don't.

I don't think that's a bad thing.

Not entirely true. Masset's had some really solid runs where he looked flat out dominant. So did Burton, Bray, Ondrusek, LeCure...etc. At the end of the year, sure their stats aren't glowing, but when a pitcher is throwing well, give him a shot at the 9th. Especially when Cordero had gone 3 or 4 days straight...or 5. *sheesh*

Kc61
03-28-2012, 02:02 PM
Not entirely true. Masset's had some really solid runs where he looked flat out dominant. So did Burton, Bray, Ondrusek, LeCure...etc. At the end of the year, sure their stats aren't glowing, but when a pitcher is throwing well, give him a shot at the 9th. Especially when Cordero had gone 3 or 4 days straight...or 5. *sheesh*

In 1999, McKeon used Williamson as a backup reliever to Graves. I thought that system worked out great.

You can have basic roles, subject to reasonable use and flexibility. I think Dusty is overly rigid with his relievers.

Use them in basic roles, but change around enough to avoid fatigue.

_Sir_Charles_
03-28-2012, 02:06 PM
Problem is that guys like Ondrusek, Masset, Bray all pitched much worse in the second half last year, probably due to too much use.

This is why it is so important to have a deep pen. The Reds obviously saw this and devoted resources to the pen, but now these injuries. . . .

Again, not entirely true. Our pen wasn't thin last year. Just poorly managed IMO. Cordero saw MUCH too little action in the first half due to few save oppos. Of course much of the overuse falls on the shoulders of the starters in the first half only going 1-4 innings and garbage like that. But having guys like Fisher on the staff and having him just sit there for days on end but running Logan out there 4 out of every 5 games...that's just dumb. If the manager doesn't have any confidence in a pitcher, send him down or FORCE him to play him. Eating up a roster spot and overworking the rest of the players is a formula for disaster.

_Sir_Charles_
03-28-2012, 02:07 PM
In 1999, McKeon used Williamson as a backup reliever to Graves. I thought that system worked out great.

You can have basic roles, subject to reasonable use and flexibility. I think Dusty is overly rigid with his relievers.

Use them in basic roles, but change around enough to avoid fatigue.

Exactly. Specific roles are not a bad thing. Refusing to be flexible with said roles IS.

RedsManRick
03-28-2012, 02:15 PM
I agree somewhat. Players having a specific role is great for the player. It helps them prepare physically and mentally. But Dusty does need to know when to alter those roles when it hurts the team (pitcher overuse). Last season was actually a good example. When we were having games that were either blowout victories or losses, Cordero wasn't getting much time on the bump because there simply weren't save opportunities. But instead of pitching Cordero somewhat regularly, he benched him (in case a save presented itself) and instead overworked Ondrusek. IMO this is my biggest complaint about Dusty. It's not a HUGE problem, because really how often does a team have a stretch like that with 0 save opportunities...but a little flexibility would go a long way IMO.

I agree it's a great principal to have. The question is the degree to which you apply it. For example, is it best from a team performance standpoint to have your SS batting 2nd if his name is Paul Janish? Is it best from a team performance standpoint to have your 35 year old closer clearly laboring to get a save for 3rd straight night? Is it best to have your speedy guy bunting if he stinks at it and has HR power?

My complaint is not that Dusty manages using a framework of every player having a role. It's that he fails to show the flexibility within that framework to take full advantage of his players' skill sets and to account for times when it's smart to make exceptions.

It's that obsessive adherence that leads to the kinds of scenarios like the Ondrusek situation.

_Sir_Charles_
03-28-2012, 02:24 PM
I agree it's a great principal to have. The question is the degree to which you apply it. For example, is it best from a team performance standpoint to have your SS batting 2nd if his name is Paul Janish? Is it best from a team performance standpoint to have your 35 year old closer clearly laboring to get a save for 3rd straight night? Is it best to have your speedy guy bunting if he stinks at it and has HR power?

My complaint is not that Dusty manages using a framework of every player having a role. It's that he fails to show the flexibility within that framework to take full advantage of his players' skill sets and to account for times when it's smart to make exceptions.

It's that obsessive adherence that leads to the kinds of scenarios like the Ondrusek situation.

We're on the same page.

I understand why Dusty batted Janish second. I really do. It wasn't because he envisioned Paul as a 2 hole hitter, it was because he didn't want the other 7 position players' roles and slots in the order changed. His view was something along the lines of "why should I alter 7 guys' routines just to accommodate 1 player". It makes sense in a weird sort of way, but over the long haul, you've got to put all 8 position players into a position to succeed. Making that change as early as possible would be for the best (as opposed to waiting to be forced into making a change due to poor performance).

redsmetz
03-28-2012, 02:25 PM
Just another quick note. This thread basically has cherry-picked a statistic and made a sweeping generalization regarding that tiny little piece of data. In a book that covers the depth of all of MLB's league history, we're told that only five times has something occurred. That's a lot of seasons, more than I care to calculate.

Now it doesn't tell us who the other two managers were who twice used one person for all of their team's saves, nor do I need to know that. But even Baker's three times prove to be a tiny fraction of the whole (don't we regularly talk about "small sample sizes" here). I did calculate the number of "team seasons" there have been since we've the original creation of the Save statistic (1969). That also coincided with a round of expansion. Since 1969 when leagues went up to 24 teams until now when we now have 30 teams, there have been a total of 1168 "team seasons." [For those counting, feel free to verify my number: 1969-1976, 24 teams; 1977-1992, 26 teams; 1993-1997, 28 teams, 1998 & on, 30 teams]. The three instances when Dusty used only one pitcher for all of his saves add up to around one quarter of one percent of that total number of "team seasons."

I haven't gone back and reviewed what Baker did in other seasons, but I suspect it was fairly consistent with the general practice of the time. I suspect that the instances of "closer by committee" are equally rare anymore, especially since Tony LaRussa began using Dennis Eckersley almost exclusively as a 9th inning "closer" in his 2nd season in Oakland. This just strikes me as much ado about nothing, as the saying goes.

Also, the article referenced is from 2009 and some of it is a good review of Baker's history both in SF and in Chicago, warts & all, but it only includes his first season here. I suspect that WOY is right that Dusty Baker's legacy will rest on his final time in Cincinnati.

savafan
03-28-2012, 04:58 PM
http://espn.go.com/mlb/spring2012/story/_/id/7747885/2012-spring-training-cincinnati-reds-lean-using-closer-committee


GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- One week before the season opener, Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker is leaning toward a closer-by-committee approach to replace Ryan Madson.

Griffey012
03-28-2012, 06:25 PM
Our bullpen was overused last year from all positions. Ondrusek, Bray, Masset, Cordero...it was due to the starters inability to routinely get deep into games. Not to mention the shakiness of Masset and Arredondo led to some short outings for them, or led to having to use more pitchers than planned.

dougdirt
03-28-2012, 06:43 PM
Now it doesn't tell us who the other two managers were who twice used one person for all of their team's saves, nor do I need to know that. But even Baker's three times prove to be a tiny fraction of the whole (don't we regularly talk about "small sample sizes" here). I did calculate the number of "team seasons" there have been since we've the original creation of the Save statistic (1969). That also coincided with a round of expansion. Since 1969 when leagues went up to 24 teams until now when we now have 30 teams, there have been a total of 1168 "team seasons." [For those counting, feel free to verify my number: 1969-1976, 24 teams; 1977-1992, 26 teams; 1993-1997, 28 teams, 1998 & on, 30 teams]. The three instances when Dusty used only one pitcher for all of his saves add up to around one quarter of one percent of that total number of "team seasons."
Sure, but it also tells us that Dusty Baker has done it more times than every other manager in the history of the game combined.

WMR
03-28-2012, 06:59 PM
You don't need to think outside the box when you co-authored "The Book" and also played with Hank Aaron.

dougdirt
03-28-2012, 07:02 PM
You don't need to think outside the box when you co-authored "The Book" and also played with Hank Aaron.

Tango played with Hank Aaron!?

fearofpopvol1
03-28-2012, 07:37 PM
My biggest criticism of Baker is that he gives starting pitchers too long of a leash in order to finish out an inning or to make sure they are eligible for the "win." I can't tell you how many times this strategy has failed and the other team then puts the game either out of reach or puts the team in a pretty big bind. Either let the pitcher completely implode or pull them before things get out of control.

I can handle most other things, even if I disagree with them.

mbgrayson
03-28-2012, 09:08 PM
My main criticism is that if it's a save situation, even with a three run lead at home, and nobody on base in the 9th, Dusty ALWAYS uses his closer. Then, when the games are one run affairs the next few nights, the closer pitches again, and get used too heavily.

This is why the stat about only one guy getting all the saves is noteworthy. Other managers will try out someone like Masset or Bray or Chapman in a non-pressure save situation. This gives them a taste of the 9th inning, and gets them ready for coming in to pitch high leverage sitautions. Dusty doesn't do that. It seems like he got a bonus that was tied to how many saves Coco got....

RedsManRick
03-28-2012, 11:17 PM
My main criticism is that if it's a save situation, even with a three run lead at home, and nobody on base in the 9th, Dusty ALWAYS uses his closer. Then, when the games are one run affairs the next few nights, the closer pitches again, and get used too heavily.

This is why the stat about only one guy getting all the saves is noteworthy. Other managers will try out someone like Masset or Bray or Chapman in a non-pressure save situation. This gives them a taste of the 9th inning, and gets them ready for coming in to pitch high leverage sitautions. Dusty doesn't do that. It seems like he got a bonus that was tied to how many saves Coco got....

I find it hilarious that managers who will talk about how stats are overrated and so forth are so beholden to completely arbitrary stats like wins and saves.

VR
03-29-2012, 01:41 AM
In 1999, McKeon used Williamson as a backup reliever to Graves. I thought that system worked out great.

You can have basic roles, subject to reasonable use and flexibility. I think Dusty is overly rigid with his relievers.

Use them in basic roles, but change around enough to avoid fatigue.

46-62 in save opportunites for those two that year. Was surprised to see that.

camisadelgolf
03-29-2012, 04:37 AM
Since closers are still relatively new, I take this to mean that you're accusing Dusty Baker of being the most modern of managers. Like redsmetz said, some of us are possibly taking this small piece of data to mean a lot more than it is.

edabbs44
03-29-2012, 07:04 AM
My main criticism is that if it's a save situation, even with a three run lead at home, and nobody on base in the 9th, Dusty ALWAYS uses his closer. Then, when the games are one run affairs the next few nights, the closer pitches again, and get used too heavily.

This is why the stat about only one guy getting all the saves is noteworthy. Other managers will try out someone like Masset or Bray or Chapman in a non-pressure save situation. This gives them a taste of the 9th inning, and gets them ready for coming in to pitch high leverage sitautions. Dusty doesn't do that. It seems like he got a bonus that was tied to how many saves Coco got....

How many managers, who have an established well paid closer on the roster, would not use his closer in that situation barring extenuating circumstances like it would be 4 days in a row or something like that?

edabbs44
03-29-2012, 07:06 AM
I find it hilarious that managers who will talk about how stats are overrated and so forth are so beholden to completely arbitrary stats like wins and saves.

Just a thought, but since some of those stats will drive salary for these guys, does that go hand in hand with being a "players' manager"?

MartyFan
03-29-2012, 08:29 AM
Free Reds Fans!
Free Pete Mackanin!

Pete Mackanin For Manager!

dougdirt
03-29-2012, 08:33 AM
Just a thought, but since some of those stats will drive salary for these guys, does that go hand in hand with being a "players' manager"?

I really wonder how much those stats get guys paid (aside from saves). Teams are pretty smart these days and just about all of them have a good understanding of more advanced stats. If your agent can't do you the service of showing your value to a team aside from average, home runs or RBI.... you probably need a new agent.

Cedric
03-29-2012, 08:37 AM
I find it hilarious that managers who will talk about how stats are overrated and so forth are so beholden to completely arbitrary stats like wins and saves.

One of the best things I have ever read here. It just proves that these guys are against the "newer" stats because it goes against their archaic idea of what matters in baseball. And god forbid with their massive ego's that they actually learn something new about baseball.

lollipopcurve
03-29-2012, 08:54 AM
Just a thought, but since some of those stats will drive salary for these guys, does that go hand in hand with being a "players' manager"?

Yes, in my opinion, there's a relationship there. It's no surprise Cordero really wanted to be back with the Reds.

Tony Cloninger
03-29-2012, 09:03 AM
46-62 in save opportunites for those two that year. Was surprised to see that.

Look at the 1990-92 Reds....as well. You will be surprised as to how many games those bullpens actually blew....not talking about 6th-7th innings... I am talking about 8th or 9th.

1992 that double head of Dibble and Charlton was good.....but also overrated and blew lots of games. The 1999 one... the CLE game in Cleveland where Vizquel hits a homer in the 9th off Scott to blow the lead...blowing up in the 9th vs the Cubs at Riverfront....in late August and the game in Milwaukee in the last series of the season.

_Sir_Charles_
03-29-2012, 12:04 PM
IMO this thread is again just nitpicking in regards to Dusty. Going with only one closer getting all the saves is NOT the norm for him. Sure, he's done it more than any other manager...but it's not like this is what he always does.

He managed the Giants from 1993 to 2002. 2 seasons saw only 1 closer. 96 with Beck and 02 with Nen. The rest of the time he had 3 or 4 pitchers get saves each year. Now it's not necessarily a "committee", but it is sharing the wealth somewhat.

He did the same thing with the Cubs from 2003 to 2006. 4 pitchers notched saves in 2003 and 2005. 2 got saves in '06. 7 pitchers were saving games for the cubs in '04.

Sure, he'll prefer a main closer, but it's not like he refuses to mix it up. I just wish he'd do it a bit more often. Especially in non-tight save situations. Give those other guys a shot. The main thing I'd like to see is to really limit the 3, 4 and 5 days straight for ANY relievers.

camisadelgolf
03-29-2012, 01:32 PM
Another thing I can take from this (if I want to): Dusty Baker is good at going to teams with good closers and/or good at picking closers. With the Cubs, who would you have picked over Ryan Dempster? LaTroy Hawkins? Joe Borowski? They were three closers who did a good job for the Cubs at a time when they had terrible bullpens. Robb Nen was one of the best relievers in baseball for years. So was Rod Beck. Why are we assuming that what he's doing is a bad thing? If you ask me, it looks to me like he has almost always picked the best reliever for the closer role. If not the best pitcher, then the one that everyone expected him to pick, which is no different from all the other managers out there. Are we penalizing him for picking good closers who can stay healthy? Jeez. Nitpicking indeed.