Here's a topic for the slow news All Star break days.
I recently finished Weaver on Strategy, which I picked up at a discount bookstore earlier in the year. It's a quick read, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Weaver is famous for his ideas on how to build an offense, and they are all contained here--play for the three-run homer, play for one run only when it will win you the game, and the importance of base on balls, among others. The tactics of Weaverball are covered exceedingly well elsewhere. What I found interesting are other elements of the book.
Curiously enough, he begins a book on strategy with a discussion on. . . Spring Training???
Weaver's approach here reminds me of the documentary I recently saw on John Wooden and how he began the first practice of each season explaining to his players (in detail) exactly how to tie shoe laces. I suppose there is brilliance in this simplicity. As well as starting with the basics.Let's face it--spring training is pretty boring. But that doesn't mean it isn't important.
He made decisions on who to start based on batter vs. pitcher matchups.
Weaver put a lot of weight into batter vs. pitcher matchups, and he was confident making these decisions with fewer than 10 ABs guiding him. That approach strikes me as an overreliance on small samples of data, but I suppose the results (.583 career win %) certainly speak for themselves. In general, I get the sense that Weaver was far ahead of his peers in understanding and interpreting statistical data.I moved players up and down in the batting order according to how my stats show they have fared against certain pitchers.
Is this characteristic still relevant, given the implications of DIPS and balls in play? I think it probably is.How to Tell if a Pitcher is Losing His Edge:
1.) Pay attention to foul balls. When a pitcher gets in a good groove, the hitters will usually foul his deliveries straight back. . . But if the hitters start making solid contact and belting hte ball down the lines, watch out. . .
One forgotten theme of the Weaver years was that his defenses were awesome. Those O's clubs had some of the all-time great defenders (Belanger, Brooks Robinson). His players won 30 Gold Gloves in his 17 years managing. Wow. I suppose it is easy to build a great pitching staff when you have several Gold Glovers.
With that in mind, how many of these current Reds would be put on the field for Weaver while playing their current positions? I think Griffey and Phillips, and that's probably the list. Dunn would certainly be DHing. Hamilton might be in a corner OF position, but most certainly not CF.
I thought these quotes on defense were interesting:
Weaver's Ninth Law: The key step for an infielder is the first one--to the left or right, but before the ball is hit.Regarding coaches, this one made me laugh:The main function of the second baseman and shortstop is turning the double play.
By the way, Earl Weaver was thrown out of 99 games, including a World Series (!) game. What a character. Umpires Lucianio, Springstead, and Haller threw him out of seven, seven, and six games, respectfully.The first thing a manager looks for in a coach is a man who is not afraid of physical work. One of a coach's man jobs is to throw batting practice.
At the end of the book he provides a sample of records of every Oriole AB and every Oriole pitch. It's a quite extensive collection, one that was well advanced for his time.Weaver's Tenth Law: The job of arguing with the umpire belongs to the manager, because it won't hurt the team if he gets thrown out of the game.