Clint Hurdle Newsbeat
Sunday, October 12, 2014
In the case of the Rangers’ managerial search, which is likely to be pared down to three finalists this week, the mentors — particularly Terry Francona and Clint Hurdle — loom very big. Both are models for what the Rangers want in their next manager. Both have taken two different organizations to the postseason. Both have been to the World Series.
Most importantly, they both have commanding presence, yet manage by inclusion.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Can the Pirates get over the final Hurdle?
In this spartan space, first-year hitting coach Jeff Branson summoned the Pirates’ batters early this spring for a meeting…
Branson outlined parameters he and manager Clint Hurdle wanted universally accepted. They wanted more competitive at-bats, better two-strike approaches and competence against off-speed pitches.
The Pirates won 94 games last season because their defense turned an extra 2 percent of batted balls into outs. But despite the Pirates’ pitching and defense regressing this season, the Pirates are in contention because their offense has improved at avoiding outs by an additional 2 percent.
The Pirates ranked 18th in baseball in on-base percentage last season (.313). This season, they are tied for first with the Detroit Tigers with a .331 mark. By getting more runners on base the Pirates are scoring more runs. They ranked 20th in runs scored in the majors last season (3.9) and now rank ninth overall and third in the NL (4.3).
Just as the Pirates improved their run-prevention abilities with few acquisitions in 2013, they have improved their offensive efficiency with nearly an identical cast.
Monday, September 01, 2014
Right after Bo Porter was hired [as Astros manager] I was told he was the only candidate who answered “yes” to the question, “are you OK with influence from the front office in every day decisions like setting the lineup?” There was a reason he was the only one who said yes, no one wants to manage a major league team where they are told what to do by someone who has never played the game or even done the job.
There is balance here. Influences from front offices are part of the new equation in baseball and the game is smarter because of it. Clint Hurdle told me the Pirates utilize a sort of hybrid theory and it is working well in Pittsburgh. He is open to advanced metrics, he listens, he gets it and he and the front office work well together to implement the new school of thought.
There is one essential caveat though, he makes the final in game decisions, including lineups and he is never second guessed on those decisions…
The Astros need two managers. One right now who is not competitive and will do whatever the front office tells him while they’re still losing. Then they’ll need one when they get good who is ultra competitive and has the track record to tell the front office to back off. Of course that guy will go through the interview process and immediately withdraw his name.
Something has to change or this will be the beginning of a cycle that never ends in Houston.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
And I would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you meddling managers!
To determine how much each manager has meddled — or, to use a more neutral term, tinkered — I identified 10 areas in which a manager might try to make an in-game impact: changing the lineup; calling for an intentional walk, a pitchout, or a hit-and-run attempt; ordering a sacrifice bunt attempt by a position player (sac bunts by pitchers are par for the course); pinch hitting for a position player; pinch running; inserting defensive subs; challenging a call that’s reviewable by replay; and using a pitcher to face a single batter (which, while often effective, might be the most intrusive and disruptive action of all)....
With the default stats selected, Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons claims the title of most active manager, largely on the strength of his fondness for replacing his starters. Gibbons is conservative when it comes to intentional walks and pitchouts, but he’s very aggressive in challenging umpires and in fiddling with his lineup card during games: The Jays lead the majors in pinch hitting for position players and in inserting defensive subs, as they pursue the handedness advantage at positions where they platoon and try to reduce their exposure to defensive liabilities such as Juan Francisco…
On the opposite end of the spectrum sits Washington’s rookie manager Matt Williams, who’s exhibited a below-average activity level in every area. The average NL manager has called for 15 hit-and-run attempts, using the definition provided here by former Baseball Prospectus author (and current Astros analyst) Mike Fast. Williams has tried only two, tying with the Orioles’ Buck Showalter for the fewest in the majors.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Both Rollins and Barmes were surprised to hear that BABIP on grounders was up, but they also said that ground ball data wasn’t the whole story when it comes to the utility of shifting.
Rollins shook his head, “Hmm, yeah, you’d expect the [ground ball] numbers to be down.” After taking a moment to consider how to explain what was going on, he asked, “What about line drives?” I didn’t have an answer because I hadn’t thought about what suddenly appeared obvious. “I’ve seen so many line drives right past the first baseman and that third or second baseman is sitting there in that hole, and you’re saying, ‘It’s not fair.’
“From what I see, looking at line drives may be the place to look [for the effectiveness of the shift]. I mean, we see it with Ryan [Howard], [Domonic] Brown a little bit, and balls that come off that bat, he’s like, ‘Yes!’ and the guy’s sitting there,” Rollins continued, jokingly adding, “And that should be illegal, it’s stacking the field.”
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