Monday, September 15, 2014
“Ned Yost is the worst manager in baseball, except all the others.”
On Sunday, with the Royals up 4-3 in the sixth inning and starter Jason Vargas on his way out of the game, Yost brought in Aaron Crow with a man out and two on. Crow walked Yoenis Cespedes to load the bases, struck out Allen Craig, then allowed a grand slam to Daniel Nava to blow the lead and then some. Nava is one of the more extreme platoon bats in baseball — a switch-hitter, he’s got a career 125 wRC+ against righties and merely a 60 against lefties — and he even admitted to being surprised after the game that Yost allowed him to face a righty.
Worse, Yost’s postgame comments defy logic. He chose Crow because he wanted strikeouts, but Crow doesn’t really strike people out, with a K% mark tied for 296th of the 311 pitchers with 50 innings. He found it frustrating that the game was lost before he could bring in Kelvin Herrera, but didn’t actually bring in Herrera because “the sixth inning is Crow’s inning,” whatever that means. Crow’s velocity is way down and he’s having the worst season of his career, yet he was still allowed to face a hitter who had the platoon advantage in the biggest spot of the game, apparently because Yost feared Mike Napoli would pinch hit if he made a move….
Back in May, when Yost had to fend off complaints about his refusal to use Holland in tie games on the road, Jonah Keri did some research and came away with this:
Since the start of last year, non-Yost managers have used their closer in the ninth inning of tied road games 19 times out of 307 opportunities, a rate of just 6 percent. Even taking mitigating factors like closer fatigue and closer committees into account, that’s still an astoundingly low number. It’s about half the closer usage rate we’d see if managers simply rolled a die to pick which reliever to throw into the fire.
It takes every manager in baseball making that kind of call to get to a 6 percent usage number. In 2012, Dan Lependorf, then writing for The Hardball Times and now working for the Oakland A’s, attempted to come up with a way to come away with “manager’s WPA” in terms of bullpen decisions. While it’s possible to question the methodology, Yost’s 2012 was ranked as the tenth-best overall. That seems crazy, but maybe it’s not. You can see above that he used three of his four best relievers in the highest-leverage situations, and it’s not at all difficult to find examples of other managers doing the same things that drive Royals fans nuts.
Posted: September 15, 2014 at 11:51 AM | 46 comment(s)
Sunday, September 14, 2014
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.
The Astros have fired manager Bo Porter, according to a team press release. Bench coach Dave Trembley has also been relieved of his duties. Tom Lawless will be the club’s interim manager for the rest of the 2014 season.
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.
for his generous support.
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