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edabbs44
11-20-2012, 09:21 AM
Article from BP by CJ Nitkowski. Good read. And for the record, it isn't a saber bashing article but it could seem that way from the intro I pasted below. I just didn't want to paste too much article and get grounded.



One thing that has always bewildered me about the sabermetric community, more specifically its members in the media, has been its general discounting of the value of coaching, especially at the major-league level.

I have read more times than I care to recount how little impact a manager can have on wins and losses, but that’s another topic for another day. What really befuddles me, though, is when a sabermetric scribe plays down the value coaches can have at the big-league level, with doubt about their usefulness dripping from every sarcastic word.

What I find most puzzling is that not only is it not true, but it comes from a source that could never understand what makes a good coach in professional baseball without guessing. Those opinions on MLB coaches are about as valid as mine on ballet instructors.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18964

RANDY IN INDY
11-20-2012, 09:43 AM
Article from BP by CJ Nitkowski. Good read. And for the record, it isn't a saber bashing article but it could seem that way from the intro I pasted below. I just didn't want to paste too much article and get grounded.



http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18964

:beerme:

mdccclxix
11-20-2012, 09:47 AM
I guess coaching is a supposed stable factor in all the numbers, which isn't an assumption I'd guess anyone would care to make after it being pointed out. Good stuff. I think the line of talk that states "you're just managing egos" has pervaded the public perception about the coaches role. Interesting to hear from a player on this topic.

RANDY IN INDY
11-20-2012, 09:56 AM
Baseball is a game of constant adjustments, and having highly competent coaches who can analyze and offer suggestions is very important. At that level, I don't think you can force yourself on players, and like all levels, you have to make the player believe that you, as a coach, have something that is valuable to them, something they want and need. Some players are very stubborn. Some have trusted people and coaches from their past, outside of the team, that they go to for help when things are going bad. That may even be "Dad" in some cases. You have to build trust, as a coach, to be effective.

_Sir_Charles_
11-20-2012, 11:38 AM
This stuck out for me....


The final and most important piece of the coaching puzzle is an ability to communicate and relate to your players. Knowledge and commitment are almost givens at the big-league level, but communication is a different skill set, and not all do it well.

This, to me, screams Dusty Baker in my book.

jojo
11-20-2012, 11:59 AM
What really befuddles me, though, is when a sabermetric scribe plays down the value coaches can have at the big-league level, with doubt about their usefulness dripping from every sarcastic word.

Fortunately CJ is only rarely befuddled if he ever actually has been. I can't think of an instance where a saber writer has done what he describes.

RANDY IN INDY
11-20-2012, 12:32 PM
All coaches don't offer valuable information and aren't "engaged." Since I have retired from coaching at this point in my life, I have asked Matt what his coaches say when he begins to struggle and they come out to the mound. It's usually the same thing. "Throw strikes," or "You need to focus," or "You're not picking up your target," or something trivial that a lot of TV announcers might say. He usually waits till the inning is over and comes to the fence to ask me, "What am I doing wrong." A lot of it is taking the time to know your pitcher's mechanics and having a few quick fixes for game situations that aren't necessarily the long term cure of the problem. Coaches that take the time to know their players and their mechanics are always the best. That takes work, though, and a lot of coaches don't like that part.

_Sir_Charles comment about communication, above, is right on the money. Some coaches see the problem, know how to fix it, but can't communicate it to the player.

CySeymour
11-20-2012, 12:52 PM
All coaches don't offer valuable information and aren't "engaged." Since I have retired from coaching at this point in my life, I have asked Matt what his coaches say when he begins to struggle and they come out to the mound. It's usually the same thing. "Throw strikes," or "You need to focus," or "You're not picking up your target," or something trivial that a lot of TV announcers might say.

I always laugh when I hear coaches yell these things. Like the kid is trying not to throw strikes!

westofyou
11-20-2012, 12:54 PM
A good coach can save/make a players career, I don't believe a bad coach can ruin someones career

RANDY IN INDY
11-20-2012, 01:11 PM
A good coach can save/make a players career, I don't believe a bad coach can ruin someones career

They certainly can ruin pitchers at an early age by throwing them so many innings in the summer.

westofyou
11-20-2012, 01:28 PM
They certainly can ruin pitchers at an early age by throwing them so many innings in the summer.

True, I suppose I should amend that to the bad coach can ruin a pitchers career while a bad coach likely can't ruin a position players career

RedsManRick
11-20-2012, 01:29 PM
I'd love to see some of these articles where sabermetric scribes talk about the uselessness of coaching.

Why did Billy Beane have to write that book anyways?

westofyou
11-20-2012, 01:32 PM
I'd love to see some of these articles where sabermetric scribes talk about the uselessness of coaching.

Why did Billy Beane have to write that book anyways?

There out there, let's not pretend that the BP of 2004 wasn't snarky at all, because I read it religiously and it was

RedsManRick
11-20-2012, 01:34 PM
There out there, let's not pretend that the BP of 2004 wasn't snarky at all, because I read it religiously and it was

Of course it was. But I don't think the critique was about the tone of sabermetrics in 2004.


Why do some prominent sabermetricians in the media dismiss the value of MLB coaching?

Scrap Irony
11-20-2012, 01:37 PM
There are many posters on Redszone who ascribe to the notion that a manager's usefulness is virtually nil. If a manager is the top coach, so to speak, how can coaches be viewed as anything other than useless (or close to it) for those posters?

(BTW, I'm very numbers-oriented, but woy's right. There have been a ton of people in the sabre community and those who ascribe to the sabre approach over the past decade that poo-pooh traditional coach'em-ups as little more than cheerleaders.)

dougdirt
11-20-2012, 01:42 PM
I am a believer that a Major League manager probably isn't going to make that much of a difference with a veteran player. Those guys skills are probably going to remain what they are. Yeah, there are that one in a thousand situations where someone goes Jose Bautista or Sammy Sosa, but by and large, the veteran types stay what they are.

Managers do make a difference, but how much? I say roughly 5-10 games over a season, assuming his decisions don't directly lead to the injury of a star pitcher. I know that some people will say that number isn't high enough, but compare that to players and you are talking a bonafide All-Star player to one of the best seasons ever versus a "replacement player". That is a rather large difference.

M2
11-20-2012, 01:44 PM
Coaching obviously is important, but you probably get generally good coaching across the league (kind of like CF defense, everybody's got it). And you don't get a lot of great, difference-making coaches unless you've got a pack of incompetents balancing them out on the other side.

Occasionally some standouts emerge. LaRussa and Duncan were incredible. They had a Midas touch when it came to getting the most out of the players on their roster. Bochy might fit into that category. Certainly he seems to be able to reinvigorate and milk extra out of his players (maybe it's French mysticism).

Managers like Joe Torre and Terry Francona were proclaimed flops before they became revered for their Yoda-like team leading abilities.

As much complaint as we collectively may have lodged against Bob Boone, Dave Miley and Jerry Narron when they ran the Reds, all three managed to put really horrible rosters into contention for portions of various seasons. Ultimately they weren't able to sustain those flourishes (almost no one could have) and they weren't the guys to lead the franchise forward, but their teams came to play for the most part.

When the Reds hired Dusty Baker my take was it was a positive step not so much because Baker was a stellar coach (like most he's got his strengths and his flaws), but because it indicated the Reds would start to behave more like an organization interested in winning things. Sure enough that's what happened. And Baker does a fair job of playing a winning hand when he's dealt it.

So coaching matters, but I suspect there aren't a lot of cases where coaching is transforming a major league team.

Where it probably matters more is in minor league instruction. I still say Wayne Krivsky taking a scythe to the Reds' developmental staff was the most important decision anyone has made in the organization during the past decade.

jojo
11-20-2012, 01:47 PM
There are many posters on Redszone who ascribe to the notion that a manager's usefulness is virtually nil. If a manager is the top coach, so to speak, how can coaches be viewed as anything other than useless (or close to it) for those posters?

(BTW, I'm very numbers-oriented, but woy's right. There have been a ton of people in the sabre community and those who ascribe to the sabre approach over the past decade that poo-pooh traditional coach'em-ups as little more than cheerleaders.)

I've seen saber-types pooh pooh the notion that when player A tweeks his kinetical aura and pitches an awesome game that player A 's tweak redefines true skill.... and the saber types are right.

Alot of the media-written narratives are nothing more than trying to make a pattern out of randomness.

But I have yet to see credible people in the saber community argue that coaches are unimportant. If anything, i've seen them argue that its impossible to critique a coach emperically because we actually don't have much of a clue what a given coach actually does as part of his job. If anything there is a prevailing notion that largely like managers, most coaches are fairly interchangeable on the major league level and it's appropriate to ignore the effect that coaches and managers have on player performance because it tends to all be a wash.

westofyou
11-20-2012, 01:49 PM
Of course it was. But I don't think the critique was about the tone of sabermetrics in 2004.

2004. 2011, 1984... does it matter?

Ever read any early Bill James?

Tone is easy to pick up, I certainly don't miss it or assign it to one era or as being extinct

RedsManRick
11-20-2012, 02:00 PM
2004. 2011, 1984... does it matter?

Ever read any early Bill James?

Tone is easy to pick up, I certainly don't miss it or assign it to one era or as being extinct

You don't think tone ever changes? That tone of conversation from one era should be used to suggest a dynamic in a different one?

He is making a very clear suggestion that, today, sabemertricians think good coaching is irrelevant. I'm not sure what bearing the tone of conversation 8 years has on that assertion; surely the actual conversation that's occurring today is more relevant to his discussion?

MikeThierry
11-20-2012, 02:02 PM
I've seen it first hand with TLR and Dave Duncan that coaching does matter. I know TLR will never get any love here but I feel he added to the A's and Cardinals about 5-10 extra wins a year. The way he used his bullpen, for example, was kind of different from what a lot of managers did. Instead of saving his closer for the 9th, often times he would bring closers in the 8th inning or a high leverage situation. For years, sabermatricians argued that managers should do that. TLR did do those things.

westofyou
11-20-2012, 02:04 PM
You don't think tone ever changes? That tone of conversation from one era should be used to suggest a dynamic in a different one?

He is making a very clear suggestion that, today, sabemertricians think good coaching is irrelevant. I'm not sure what bearing the tone of conversation 8 years has on that assertion; surely the actual conversation that's occurring today is more relevant to his discussion?

He's basing his opinion on when he played is he not?

MikeThierry
11-20-2012, 02:14 PM
I think people can also look at evidence like the Tampa Bay Rays to see that coaching does matter. Joe Madden, in my opinion, is the best manager in the game. Even though that pitching staff is great, but to be great in the AL East with the limited means Madden has is truly remarkable.

M2
11-20-2012, 02:27 PM
You don't think tone ever changes? That tone of conversation from one era should be used to suggest a dynamic in a different one?

He is making a very clear suggestion that, today, sabemertricians think good coaching is irrelevant. I'm not sure what bearing the tone of conversation 8 years has on that assertion; surely the actual conversation that's occurring today is more relevant to his discussion?

It's not like there's a single conversation. FWIW, I think there are places where snark is justified (e.g. if someone wants to contend Drew Stubbs is a capable every day leadoff hitter) and despise all calls to make the default tone the written equivalent of tapioca pudding.

So I'm not one to condemn haphazardly for tone, but I do recall reading in places (and I'm excluding Redszone from this particular point) this past summer that Dusty Baker only deserved blame for his mistakes and merited no credit for anything that was going right with the Reds because that was happening independent of his coaching. It's a meme among many self-identifying saberfolk and sometimes they get snotty about it. However, my take is the real problem there is the shallow faux analysis, not the tone.

RedsManRick
11-20-2012, 05:49 PM
He's basing his opinion on when he played is he not?

He's basing his opinion on the value of coaching from his experiences in the game. But his criticism regarding the treatment of the topic by sabermetrics is very clearly meant to be current. The whole article is basically:

- Sabermetric types things if you can't measure it then it doesn't matter
- But guess what? They're wrong. Coaching matters.
- Here's what good coaches do: help good players stay good


What coaches do cannot be quantified, which makes it very difficult for some to comprehend and appreciate their contributions, but the importance of a good coaching staff cannot be overstated.

Really, people can't comprehend the value because they can only comprehend value if it's quantified? Just because sabermetricians don't have a stat for something doesn't mean they think it's of negligible value. That's a classic canard. It just means they can't measure it.

Regarding the bolded part, I know it's a figure of speech. But if I say "the value of a good coach is 50 wins", I've overstated their importance and I doubt CJ would disagree. The impact of a good coach is probaby greater than zero and less than 50. Nitkowski has argued strongly that coaches have a non-zero, positive value. Good for him. But the value of his article was not in this conclusion. It was the detailed window in to the coaching role itself. Why the value canard?

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if CJ Nitkowski just wanted to talk about good coaching and a BP editor decided that it would be a stronger article if placed in the context of "coach value" and the shortcomings of sabermetrics. But to lead the article with an attack on a largely straw man attack on sabermetricians and then never actually address the issue is kind of lame in my book. It was a very good article about the role coaches play and how they help players. But the conflict presented at the beginning did nothing to better contextualize the bulk of the article and, ultimately, was not resolved in any way.

Rojo
11-20-2012, 08:14 PM
At some point sabre writers went from rock throwers to rigid defenders of the faith. Cross that rubicon and the bad snark becomes insufferable.

MrRedLegger
11-20-2012, 08:53 PM
Maybe there is a flaw in attempting to link a manager's value to wins (or losses). From a sabremetric point of view, it makes sense to try to attach a number in order to value this sort of thing, but the concensus is that it is unquantifiable. This suggests to me that wins trickle down from a coach's influence & input rather than directly result from them. Granted that in-game managerial decisions have thier direct effects, there are too many "unquantifiables" inherent in today's sport. Some are in-game, like how Arroyo isn't shy to letting Dusty know he's gassed. Does he do the same with a hot-head manager? IMO it shows a lot of respect. Just how much? It's unquantifiable.

Does Cueto shake his head at any other manager who's approaching the mound, confident he can pitch his way out of the inning? To me it shows trust.

Scott Rolen had a great 2nd half in 2012. Many wanted him to retire by the ASB. Other managers would have benched him. But Scott Rolen doesn't have a great 2nd half if Dusty doesn't play him as often as he did. To me this shows faith in experience.

Some other "unquantifiables" may come in the clubhouse. IIRC, Dusty took a shine to Frazier earlier this year and they spent quite a bit of one-on-one time together. Dusty gave him an autographed Frank Sinatra photo at one point. Frazier also had a ROY-caliber season, possibly because someone helped him acclimate to the big leagues. To me this shows leadership, guidance, mentorship.

Does Dusty use the same toothpick or does he go through a box every series? We'll never know.

These unquantifiables alone don't mean too much on an athletic field. But when you bundle them up into one person who also sets the lineups and rotations, make substitutions, etc. it garners results. 99 of them in 2012 to be exact.

M2
11-20-2012, 11:52 PM
At some point sabre writers went from rock throwers to rigid defenders of the faith. Cross that rubicon and the bad snark becomes insufferable.

Excellent observation.

RedsManRick
11-21-2012, 12:29 AM
At some point sabre writers went from rock throwers to rigid defenders of the faith. Cross that rubicon and the bad snark becomes insufferable.

What I enjoy about sabermetrics is precisely that it doesn't rely on faith. It demands you show your work. If the scientific method is now considered an article of faith, then I don't know what to say. And if sabermetric types either aren't showing their work or are doing bad work, they should be called out accordingly.

Scrap Irony
11-21-2012, 10:01 AM
What I enjoy about sabermetrics is precisely that it doesn't rely on faith. It demands you show your work. If the scientific method is now considered an article of faith, then I don't know what to say. And if sabermetric types either aren't showing their work or are doing bad work, they should be called out accordingly.

The snark about Baker is a consistent meme among national writers who are also sabre guys.

MikeThierry
11-21-2012, 12:02 PM
What I enjoy about sabermetrics is precisely that it doesn't rely on faith. It demands you show your work. If the scientific method is now considered an article of faith, then I don't know what to say. And if sabermetric types either aren't showing their work or are doing bad work, they should be called out accordingly.

I think my biggest argument against sabermetrics is that it takes out the human element. In many way's that's a good thing. However, it doesn't take into account human nature. I don't think there are such thing as clutch players, however I do believe there are players that have the ability to not let the pressure get to them. Joey Votto and Albert Pujols in his prime were examples of this. Sabermetrics seem to view players as one and the same from a human nature standpoint. I'm glad we have gone away from the whole "eye test" but one cannot completely ignore human nature.

Rojo
11-21-2012, 01:22 PM
What I enjoy about sabermetrics is precisely that it doesn't rely on faith.

Not literal faith, maybe a better word would be orthodoxy.

Some saber guys know the words but don't hear the music, or even acknowledge that there is music.

BTW, this doesn't apply to Bill James.

Roy Tucker
11-21-2012, 03:11 PM
Some believe extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

Or something like that.

jojo
11-21-2012, 07:12 PM
The snark about Baker is a consistent meme among national writers who are also sabre guys.

Who consistently snarks about Baker nationally?