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Monday, January 06, 2014

Brad Ausmus on TigerTalk: ‘I’m not a sabermetrician’

. ‘I have earned everything I have got.’

The return of baseball must be near, because the first episode of “TigerTalk” in 2014 aired Monday night on WXYT. Host Pat Caputo talked Tigers baseball with radio play-by-play man, Dan Dickerson, as well as new manager, Brad Ausmus.

...Dickerson asked Ausmus about the value of having an official closer in the bullpen, and the response left little doubt as to where he stood: “I have yet to come across a manager who says ‘I don’t care who pitches the 9th.’ ... The rest of the bullpen knows where they slot [when you have a closer],” and in that situation, “It’s beneficial if guys kind of know their roles [in the bullpen] ... it creates a bit more of a comfort level.”

Is Ausmus concerned at all, coming in as a young manager with no real managerial experience of which to speak? No, he says, “I think the players know that I haven’t forgotten how difficult this game is ... I know what it’s like to go 0-for-40 ... The fact that I’m not that far removed [from the game] will help me relate to [the players] a little bit better.”

Caputo asked Ausmus a rather pointed question about his opinion on sabermetrics, to which Ausmus replied that advanced statistical data is more for analysis “after-the-fact ... it doesn’t blend too close into game action.” While he acknowledged that “There’s data that I will look at, that we will use during the course of a game,” he noted that “it’s the players who win or lose the games.” Ausmus referred directly to the fact that “People got the thought that, because of my age and my background, I’m a sabermetrician,” but dispelled this idea by adding, “I’m really not.”

Repoz Posted: January 06, 2014 at 09:46 PM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, tigers

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   1. Lars6788 Posted: January 06, 2014 at 10:11 PM (#4631903)
And because he looks the part and came from Dartmouth, people will have no reason to slam him - if what Ausmus said came from Lloyd McClendon or someone of that ilk [let's just say, someone 'old school' to be polite], the torches would be out in full force.
   2. madvillain Posted: January 06, 2014 at 10:32 PM (#4631916)
And because he looks the part and came from Dartmouth, people will have no reason to slam him - if what Ausmus said came from Lloyd McClendon or someone of that ilk [let's just say, someone 'old school' to be polite], the torches would be out in full force.


Well his slate is blank, so that's why he gets the benefit of the doubt. It's also hard to be any more obstinate than Jim Leyland. Leyland is a guy that no matter how good he was "in the clubhouse" had a real deleterious effect on the field with his strict bullpen usage and silly lineup construction (the whole "bench guy bats in the same spot as the starter he replaces that day).

Most Tigers fans I know are excited for Ausmus just because he's not Leyland.
   3. PreservedFish Posted: January 06, 2014 at 10:38 PM (#4631925)
if what Ausmus said came from Lloyd McClendon or someone of that ilk [let's just say, someone 'old school' to be polite], the torches would be out in full force.


I don't think any MLB manager has ever called himself a sabermetrician. Ausmus' statement here is a nice blend of platitudes and intelligent equivocation - this should be seen as a totally unobjectionable answer in both the stathead and the old schooler camps.
   4. jmurph Posted: January 06, 2014 at 10:40 PM (#4631929)
Did he actually say "sabermetrician," pronouncing it correctly? If so, he's definitely a sabermetrician.
   5. PreservedFish Posted: January 06, 2014 at 10:44 PM (#4631934)
#4 - I had the same thought, actually.
   6. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 06, 2014 at 10:52 PM (#4631945)
had a real deleterious effect on the field with his strict bullpen usag
Isn't that the same Jim Leyland who used a variety of closers during their run to the World Series in 2012 after Valverde fell apart?
   7. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: January 06, 2014 at 10:59 PM (#4631958)
Well his slate is blank, so that's why he gets the benefit of the doubt. It's also hard to be any more obstinate than Jim Leyland. Leyland is a guy that no matter how good he was "in the clubhouse" had a real deleterious effect on the field with his strict bullpen usage and silly lineup construction (the whole "bench guy bats in the same spot as the starter he replaces that day).

I didn't know that was a thing. Gardenhire does it with the Twins, too.
   8. McCoy Posted: January 06, 2014 at 11:04 PM (#4631961)
Virtually all teams do it.
   9. God Posted: January 06, 2014 at 11:11 PM (#4631966)
If Tigers fans' biggest complaint about Leyland was the order guys batted in, then you've really got nothing to complain about. The real killers are the guys who pick the wrong players to play in the first place. Leyland was more willing to use young players on a contending team than any manager in recent baseball history. That alone had to make him worth something.
   10. Rough Carrigan Posted: January 06, 2014 at 11:14 PM (#4631970)
Wasn't Ausmus one of the guys on the Astros who got all passive aggressive upset when Larry Dierker wanted Houston to do unconventional things?
   11. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: January 06, 2014 at 11:18 PM (#4631974)
#8--the things you miss when you only follow your hometown team day to day!
   12. madvillain Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:16 AM (#4631994)
Isn't that the same Jim Leyland who used a variety of closers during their run to the World Series in 2012 after Valverde fell apart?


It's more like insisting on Smiley as a LOOGY and strict adherence to conventional wisdom with platoons, even when the actual stats suggested otherwise. I dunno, the Tigers fans I know, and I know a bunch, didn't really think Leyland was a net plus.
   13. Chris Fluit Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:21 AM (#4631996)
#10- yes. It's the main reason why I was less than enthused with this hire for the Tigers though I'd be pleased to be proven wrong.
   14. McCoy Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:23 AM (#4631999)
Leyland was more willing to use young players on a contending team than any manager in recent baseball history. That alone had to make him worth something.

Well, Lou Piniella gave Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, Matt Murton, Geo Soto, Carlos Marmol, and Sean Marshall in 2007. Hell, he started untested and basically unknown Geo Soto in September and in the playoffs over Kendall.
   15. TJ Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:25 AM (#4632000)
As a lifelong Tiger fan, I can only hope that Ausmus does as well as Leyland did during his time in Detroit...and Ausmus should hope to do as well, also...
   16. base ball chick Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:37 AM (#4632004)
Rough Carrigan Posted: January 06, 2014 at 10:14 PM (#4631970)

Wasn't Ausmus one of the guys on the Astros who got all passive aggressive upset when Larry Dierker wanted Houston to do unconventional things?

- ay yep
him n biggio n bagwell
i hear tell it is why he got traded to detroit in the middle of dierk's 5 years
of course, his replacement was a guy who could hit but the pitchers HATED him and so did his teamamtes
and the pitchers wanted bradley back, so back he came
   17. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:54 AM (#4632015)
One of my favorite BBTF things of all time was a long time ago when Randy Smith was GM of Colorado, then moved to San Diego and finally Detroit. He traded for Ausmus really quickly in his tenure on all three teams. Someone on here said that Randy Smith must walk into the office and say to his assistant, "Find Brad Ausmus and trade for him." Still makes me laugh. Then there was this:

Priceless.
   18. Cooper Nielson Posted: January 07, 2014 at 04:47 AM (#4632061)
It's more like insisting on Smiley as a LOOGY and strict adherence to conventional wisdom with platoons, even when the actual stats suggested otherwise. I dunno, the Tigers fans I know, and I know a bunch, didn't really think Leyland was a net plus.

Leyland didn't really use Smyly as a LOOGY until August and September, after the Tigers added Veras. He had 21 outings of more than one inning last year (but none after July 20), so I don't see Leyland as being super "strict" there.

He probably wasn't using Smyly optimally in August and September, but: (i) Smyly did seem a bit tired later in the season, so maybe it was a good idea to ease up on his workload; and (ii) Smyly was incredibly tough against lefties (.471 OPS against) and merely very good against righties (.699 OPS against), so if the goal was to rest him a bit, at least he was still facing the right (left) batters.

I 100% agree with you that a lot of Tiger fans thought Leyland sucked. However, I don't 100% agree with those fans. Leyland wasn't a great tactician or in-game manager, but I think his positives far outweighed his negatives, even if it was hard to quantify. (And I was a Leyland skeptic when he first arrived.)

As a lifelong Tiger fan, I can only hope that Ausmus does as well as Leyland did during his time in Detroit...and Ausmus should hope to do as well, also...

My sentiments too.
   19. Gonfalon B. Posted: January 07, 2014 at 06:28 AM (#4632067)
Did he actually say "sabermetrician," pronouncing it correctly? If so, he's definitely a sabermetrician.

I thought a sabermetrician was the person who delivered the baby before Game Seven of the 1985 Series.
   20. Dan Posted: January 07, 2014 at 09:45 AM (#4632091)
Virtually all teams do it.


This really isn't true at all. Very few managers leave the lineup alone and just insert utility infielders and 4th OFers and backup catchers into the middle of the lineup when they play. Leyland and Gardenhire are 2 of the only managers I can think of that do this all the time. Other managers tend to do it at times when it's a last minute scratch situation, but the vast majority of MLB managers will rejigger the lineup when there are planned off days and bat bench players lower in the lineup than the starter at the position they're playing normally bats.
   21. Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 07, 2014 at 10:02 AM (#4632094)
I know what it’s like to go 0-for-40


He's not exaggerating.
From the last two AB of June 18, 2006 to the first AB of July 5, 2006, Ausmus went 0-40.
   22. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 07, 2014 at 10:10 AM (#4632100)
But is he into cybernetics?
   23. fra paolo Posted: January 07, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4632103)
Leyland wasn't a great tactician or in-game manager, but I think his positives far outweighed his negatives, even if it was hard to quantify.

All my complaints about Leyland largely revolved around pitching decisions. He had a tendency to leave starters in too long, which I think in part was due to his role-driven management of his bullpen. It seemed as if he was reluctant to bring a reliever in mid-inning, and thus preferred to give the starter every opportunity to get out of a jam. By the time Leyland acknowledged it wasn't Bonderman's or whomever's day, the game could be lost.


   24. villageidiom Posted: January 07, 2014 at 11:03 AM (#4632131)
I thought a sabermetrician was the person who delivered the baby before Game Seven of the 1985 Series.
Excellent.
   25. donlock Posted: January 07, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4632148)
#19, #24 Please 'splain.
   26. villageidiom Posted: January 07, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4632155)
Saberhagen obstetrician = sabermetrician.

SI
   27. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 07, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4632160)
I was thinking it was a reference to some mangled Joaquin Andjuar quote, but I couldn't quite place it. Well, youneverknow.

   28. The District Attorney Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:13 PM (#4632173)
But is he into cybernetics?
He's into basic thugonomics.
   29. KT's Pot Arb Posted: January 07, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4632361)
“I have yet to come across a manager who says ‘I don’t care who pitches the 9th.’


Reminds me of that quote from Stewart Randall PerceyWinkle, south London's home former air marshal just before the Blitz.

I have yet to hear from a single fellow citizen saying they don't care if Nazi death machines rain bombs on south London. South Londoners want air defense, they need air defense and as south London home air marshall I am committed to air defense. I shall provide blimps, blimps and more blimps, until the sky above south London is eternally filled with clearly visible and easily avoidable floating gas-bags. And I will arm each one, even if I have to strip guns from every Spitfire and Hurricane and melt down their engines to build more, south London be defended even if we are forced let North London turn into a glowing mass of burning buildings!
   30. Walt Davis Posted: January 07, 2014 at 05:31 PM (#4632608)
On the lineup thing ...

no team has set lineups. They might like to have one but they don't. The Tigers most commonly used lineup was used for a whole 12 games. Their 3rd-6th most common lineups were used for 4 games each. All told they used 109 different lineups in 2013.

Their top 5 spots were pretty stable however but I see no evidence of Leyland just plugging a guy into the same spot. For some reason Tuiasasopo got 6 starts in the #3 hole in place of Cabrera but he wasn't starting at 3B. Dirks got some starts at #1 and #2 but then he was a "starter" and hit in the top 6-7 spots anyway. There's no obvious evidence of Leyland following the plug-in principle.

2013 was an island of stability. In 2012, the Tigers most common lineup took the field only 6 times and they used 121 different ones throughout the year. The 1,3,4,5 spots were very stable -- e.g Cabrera got 161 starts, Fielder 162 -- and the only evidence of plugging in is Berry getting 20 starts at #1 subbing for Jackson ... but then Berry had the most starts in the #2 spot so maybe his #1 starts are actually counter-examples to plug-in.

I don't know what team we might consider stable and healthy -- requirements for using the same lineup -- but some other 2013 examples (most common/total #)

Bal -- 16/100
KC -- 7/127
Tex -- 9/113
Nats -- 8/108
Reds -- 12/95
LAD -- 4/145 (!)
BOS -- 5/126

Those don't include the pitchers' spot. Include pitchers and the Dodgers used 160 different lineups in 162 games.

So I declare everybody wrong. Leyland did not just plug people into spots in the lineup. But mainly everybody is wrong because there is no such thing as a set lineup so how would we know. At most you have 4-5 set spots. Even so, KC had only one player take more than 100 starts in the same spot (Gordon at #1) the Dodgers also 1 (AGon at #3) and Texas had only two.

Managers talk as if they have a set lineup but they do only to the extent that if their top 4-5 guys are healthy and productive, they'll almost always bat them in the same spots. I think you'd have a hard time finding any team that is stable in the 6-9 spots. And if Andy Dirks makes 15 of his 103 starts in RF and bats in Hunter's spot on those days, is that a manager lazily plugging him into Hunter's spot or is that a manager taking his "regular" 6-7 hitter and "smartly" moving him up the lineup when his #2 hitter is getting a day off.

* Not that I see why this should matter. It takes 30 seconds to write out a new line-up and it's not rocket science to figure out that Tui should not be hitting third.
   31. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 07, 2014 at 06:33 PM (#4632686)

Did he actually say "sabermetrician," pronouncing it correctly? If so, he's definitely a sabermetrician.

Is there more than one way to pronounce it?
   32. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 07, 2014 at 08:47 PM (#4632820)
I don't know what team we might consider stable and healthy -- requirements for using the same lineup -- but some other 2013 examples (most common/total #)

Bal -- 16/100
KC -- 7/127
Tex -- 9/113
Nats -- 8/108
Reds -- 12/95
LAD -- 4/145 (!)
BOS -- 5/126


Does anyone have any idea if lineups are more or less stable than they have been in history?
   33. Tim D Posted: January 07, 2014 at 09:07 PM (#4632829)
A lot of Tiger fans ##### about Leyland, but a lot of fans just like to #####. The 2013 Tigers under-performed their pythag by 6 games but over Leyland's tenure they were about even. Of all the Tiger managers since Chuck Dressen in 1965 I liked Leyland the best, better than Sparky, Ralph Houk, whoever. Not to say I wouldn't rather have had Earl Weaver for 15 years, but Leyland was ok in my book.

Critics say he left the starters in too long, but for the most part he had really good starters and a shaky bullpen. People say he was too rigid with his bullpen and I find that to be mainly bullpucky. Smyly was not used as a LOOGY very much, and not until his arm was tired, and not until the Tigers had no lefties who could get anyone out. Coke was decent early in the year, as were Downs and later Alvarez, but all three were useless by late in the year. Leyland tried 3-4 guys as closers. Over the years the Tigers have mixed and matched pitchers depending on the personnel and the needs. They made Coke a starter for awhile. Zumaya was exclusively a starter in the minors, they put him in the pen. He used Chad Durbin as a 60's style swingman. He saw promise in Jason Grilli. He got a lot more than most from Bobby Seay, Zach Miner, Armando Galarraga, Edwin Jackson, etc. The Tigers from 2006-2013 have had the best sustained pitching they have had since at least the Morris/Petry days and likely the McLain/Lolich days. Nitpick if you want but his management of the staff was at least average if not above average. In all other respects Leyland has been an above average manager.

He did do the maddening put the sub in the same slot in the batting order thing. He did not do it all the time and I doubt he did it most of the time. A lot of the Leyland haters just don't like that he used all his guys and that he played guys like Inge, Raburn and Kelly. He played who he had, and he was pretty fair at optimizing the roster. And Marcus Thames hit a lot higher in the lineup than Clete Thomas. Far from being rigid, Leyland used a lot of different lineups.

Ausmus said he is not a sabermetrician. If he had said he was, all hell would break loose and it wouldn't be just Detroit. Everybody in the country would be scrutinizing and second-guessing every move. Smart answer. Let's let him manage at least one game before we draw any conclusions. I am hopeful.
   34. Bug Selig Posted: January 08, 2014 at 09:03 PM (#4634157)
By the time Leyland acknowledged it wasn't Bonderman's or whomever's day, the game could be lost.


You didn't hear this from me, but Jeremy Bonderman last started a same for the Tigers in 2010.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2014 at 09:16 PM (#4634166)
The 2013 Tigers under-performed their pythag by 6 games but over Leyland's tenure they were about even.


How does a team performing relative to pyth relate in any way to manager competence or incompetence? I have seen a lot of people use this as a proxy , but I don't get the rational. Difference in pyth is largely a function of luck/random confluence of games, what little we can weed out luck is mostly 1. Teams that score inconsistently 2. Some bullpen usage and I think that is about it.

I think a better indication of poor management is how much the teams runs created differ from their actual runs, this would be indicative of poor management of resources.


He did do the maddening put the sub in the same slot in the batting order thing.
Most managers do.
   36. fra paolo Posted: January 08, 2014 at 10:52 PM (#4634220)
You didn't hear this from me, but Jeremy Bonderman last started a same for the Tigers in 2010.

That just goes to show how long I've been observing Leyland's leaving starters in a couple of batters too many. I first noticed it during 2007, when it was maddening.

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