There seems like a growing number of anti-Narron posts on the zone recently (especially in the game threads). If you turn on local sports talk radio, the cry ďfire Narron!Ē seems almost like an anthem lately.
In my mind, this raises a couple of questions that probably donít get talked about nearly enough. What exactly are the managerís reasonable responsibilities (i.e. if youíd write a job description, what would it say)? How would you reliably evaluate a manager to see if heís actually living up to his responsibilities? Also, how much influence does the managerís actions have on a teams W-L record (5 games? 15 games?)? Answers to these questions donít seem so cut and dry to me when push comes to shove. I suspect that the manager often gets blamed for things that arenít his fault or that are out of his control and often itís assumed he has more power to screw up/turn around a team than is likely true in reality.
Interestingly, Chris Jaffe recently did a study where he evaluated all managers in mlb over the last several years by comparing the projected record of their team with their teamís actual record at the end of the season. The idea behind his methodology is pretty simple. Preseason projections donít account for the manager so the difference between the projection and the actual record should reflect at least in part, the influence of the manager. This can be a noisy proposition as injuries, player-related things like slumps, and even plain old luck all figure into a W-L record. Also, obviously, the projection systems themselves arenít guaranteed crystal balls. However, Jaffe tries to get around natural variation that could cause the noise by using a huge data set from three different projection systems. While blunt in its approach and providing only rough justice, this is the best attempt at evaluating manager performance that Iíve seen so far.
Hereís what the study says about some names familiar to Reds fans:
1. Piniella: +49; (first)
19. Narron: +1;
34. Hargrove: -28; (last)
(B. Boone wasnít scored because there wasnít enough data for him.)
Hereís what Jaffe had to say about Narron and Boone:
I don't know much about him, but I'm pretty impressed with the job he's done in Cincinnati. He's taken a team that hasn't had a winning season since the Clinton administration and gone 126-128 with them. Did you realize the Reds had, adjusted for park, one of the best pitching staffs in the NL last year? Who knew. Let's see, before Narron showed up in mid-2005, the Reds allowed 5.76 runs a game. After he arrived they averaged 5.27 per game. In 2006 it was trimmed still further to 4.94 in one of the best hitters' parks in baseball. Previously, he managed the Rangers, a team hardly known for its good pitching. In 2000, before he got there, they had the worst pitching in the AL, at 6.01 runs a game. Ouch. In early 2001 they averaged 6.86 before he got hired. In his 134 games that season, they held opponents to a slender 5.79 runs per game. Next year it skyrocketed down to 5.44, good for twelfth best in the AL. They dump him for Buck Showlater and balloon back up to 5.98. OK, that's kinda cool. Unlikely as it sounds, a recent manager of the Rangers and Reds has a track record of improving his pitching staffs. He's exceeding projections in three of his four seasons, but was Ė14 in that fourth year, 2002. He's one of the most unsung managers out there right now. I've never even heard anyone talk about this guy. Given what sort of things people usually say when speaking of managers, that's a testament to what he's done. Anyone know anything about this guy?
No, he didn't manage enough games to qualify, but he comes close. He scores miserably, at Ė21. Not really that surprising, is it?
Specifically concerning Narron, last season the Reds beat the Pecota projections by 2 games (Pecota: 78-84; actual: 80-82) and this year the Reds are currently on pace to beat the Pecota projections again (projected: 71-91; current pace: 73-89). While this study is blunt to be sure, it raises the question: if Narron is as bad as some think he is, why do teams heís managed seem to consistently beat their projections?
Also, I wonder how much credit goes to Narron or how much credit does Krivsky deserve?
Iíd love to hear everyoneís thoughts on these issues (thatís why this thread is in Reds Live!). So in the spirit of community, please letís stay above just simple venting or bashing (a well-formed argument that propels the discussion is much more likely to get pos rep if youíre inclined to care about those things).