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Thread: SABR-friendly Managers

  1. #1
    My clutch is broken RichRed's Avatar
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    SABR-friendly Managers

    I'm relatively new to the board so forgive me if this has been covered before, but who would you all say are the most statistically savvy managers out there? Being the "baseball guy" that he is (seriously, isn't everyone in the majors a "baseball guy?"), so far I'm not too impressed with Narron's ability to put the optimal lineup on the field, so who out there seems to get it?

    Thanks for the input.
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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    I think that's an excellent question. For all the complaining we've done around here about McKeon, Boone, Miley and Narron, I don't think there are a lot of SABR-friendly managers out there, for lack of a better term whether they are employed or unemployed. Even guys like Macha and Howe seem to be under orders to manage the way Billy Beane wants them to. Now I realize a lot of managers that one wouldn't think of as being SABR-friendly use stats a great deal even if they employ the bunt and steal as part of their offense. They use them for matchups and things of that nature. But they don't use them for lineups and that sort of thing. If we fired Narron tomorrow, I don't really see anyone out there who would be a SABR-friendly manager.
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    Please come again pedro's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    I honestly can't name one.

    I think that's an issue that gets lost when people talk about what Narron ought to be doing.

    There just aren;t a lot of alternatives that are going to do things any differently IMO.
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    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    Quote Originally Posted by pedro
    I honestly can't name one.

    I think that's an issue that gets lost when people talk about what Narron ought to be doing.

    There just aren;t a lot of alternatives that are going to do things any differently IMO.
    I'd say that has a lot to do with the fact that, to a man, almost every major league manager played major league ball at some point.

    The SABR torch in baseball has been carried, in large part, by people who study the game objectively but never actually played at any high level. Bill James was a baseball writer, Theo Epstein was/is a lawyer. Billy Beane, I suppose, is the exception to the rule, as he played a couple seasons as a reserve outfielder IIRC.

    I'm not sure how much I want my manager to be a sabermatrician, though. I think the ideal situation is a manager who understands that people smarter than him can crunch numbers that can help him make decisions and having those kinds of people above him at the GM and assistant-GM level. Probably would make for a smoother clubhouse than a skipper who's got the calculator out in his office constantly before meeting with players. Players have fickle egos, and I'm not sure they'd respond well to that kind of leadership from their manager -- if for no other reason than it's so radically different. That's just a guess, though.
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    GMs should have a macro view about the development of a player and how he'll do in the next five years, and SABR can help measure such things. A manager has a micro view about how a player will do in the next five games, at bats or pitches, and will need to rely on up-close observations about how a player is carrying himself. Still, SABR knowledge ought to help rewrite the manager's "book" about the overuse of batting average, sacrifice bunts, etc.

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    List begins and ends with Earl Weaver & Davey Johnson

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    My clutch is broken RichRed's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor
    I'm not sure how much I want my manager to be a sabermatrician, though. I think the ideal situation is a manager who understands that people smarter than him can crunch numbers that can help him make decisions and having those kinds of people above him at the GM and assistant-GM level. Probably would make for a smoother clubhouse than a skipper who's got the calculator out in his office constantly before meeting with players. Players have fickle egos, and I'm not sure they'd respond well to that kind of leadership from their manager -- if for no other reason than it's so radically different. That's just a guess, though.
    These are really good points. With these thoughts in mind, do you have a feel for which managers out there would best fit in to the scenario you describe?

    For the record, I'm asking because I'm genuinely interested and don't know too much about major league managers' philosophies. I just know that Narron so far hasn't impressed me much but I don't know who would be better. Maybe it's like that saying, something about democracy being the worst possible form of government, except for all the others.
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    Larry Dierker

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    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    Quote Originally Posted by big boy
    Larry Dierker
    I would certainly add him to the list. Of course he hasn't gotten much of a shot since his time with the Astros. Part of that may well be because of his past health issues. But I can't help but wonder if part of it is because he has "ideas."

    I think it will take some time, but I think you will see more over time, as guys who grew up in the '80s and '90s and read Bill James as kids start making it into management positions, you'll see a change in philosophy. I think right now the management ranks are populated by guys who played in the majors in the heyday of "Whiteyball," so you're going to have those who have an ingrained tendency to want to manufacture runs.
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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    I've seen a few people on BP say that while McKeon isn't exactly a SABR guy, they like his field managing choices in terms of player usage and strategy.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    When you talk about "SABR" managers, do you simply mean guys who manage according to stats like OPS? If that's the criteria, I'd say very few.

    However, guys like Tony Larussa use literally books full of stats to manage everything from lineup construction to pitching matchups.

    To me, a manager doesn't have to be a member of SABR to realize that the numbers can reveal the big picture. I applaud any manager who relies primarily on objective data as opposed to "gut instinct".
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    My clutch is broken RichRed's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool
    When you talk about "SABR" managers, do you simply mean guys who manage according to stats like OPS? If that's the criteria, I'd say very few.

    However, guys like Tony Larussa use literally books full of stats to manage everything from lineup construction to pitching matchups.

    To me, a manager doesn't have to be a member of SABR to realize that the numbers can reveal the big picture. I applaud any manager who relies primarily on objective data as opposed to "gut instinct".
    This is what I was getting at and you answered it perfectly. I'm looking for a manager who doesn't blindly bat a righty against a lefty because that's what the "book" says. Of course, I'm not crazy about Larussa's penchant for changing his lineup more often than Bob Boone on speed but that's for another thread.
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    This one's for you Edd Heath's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    I thought Mike Hargrove did some stats stuff in Cleveland. Lots of it.
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    Member ochre's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    SABR is the Society for American Baseball Research. You would have to request a copy of their membership list to determine which managers were members. Maybe Sandy, or woy would know.

    Sabermetrics is the analysis of baseball through objective evidence, especially baseball statistics. I think woy has approached the limits of the list that could be considered practitioners of sabermetrics.
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  16. #15
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: SABR-friendly Managers

    Quote Originally Posted by RichRed
    This is what I was getting at and you answered it perfectly. I'm looking for a manager who doesn't blindly bat a righty against a lefty because that's what the "book" says. Of course, I'm not crazy about Larussa's penchant for changing his lineup more often than Bob Boone on speed but that's for another thread.
    From what I've read about LaRussa, he often overreacts to small sample sizes. There were numerous quotes in "Three Nights in August" saying something to the extent of "Well, player A is 4 of 9 with a homer against this guy" -- ignoring that the guy has hit .200 over 300 at bats against the rest of the league.

    I consistently got the image of LaRussa as a new driver, constantly over correcting the steering as soon as shifted the slightest bit off course. There are simply so many opportunities for managers to makes moves, change strategy, etc., that it seems they often fail to have the patience to accept natural variation -- instead trying to control individual outcomes.

    Of course, one could argue that a good manager can micromanage his way to an optimal outcome --- but even with all the data in the world, doing so in real time seems just about impossible.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.


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