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Monday, November 19, 2001

Baseball Primer’s 2001 Managers of the Year

Our picks.

The NL Manager of the Year (voted by

NamePoints1stBallots(11 max)
Larry Dierker2236
Jim Tracy1424
Larry Bowa1113
Bob Brenly1113
Don Baylor812
Tony LaRussa814
Bobby Cox713
Bruce Bochy402
Bobby Valentine301
Dusty Baker101

The broadcasting manager, Larry Dierker, picked up our award and picked up   a pink slip after the playoffs.? His firing was due to a lack of success in   the playoffs (by that logic how is Bobby Cox still around), not a lack of wins   during the regular season.? He piloted a team that has an excellent outfield,   right side of the infield and some intriguing young pitchers.?
  Although the Astros had a fine season, there were far more interesting displays   of managing in the NL this year.? Jim Tracy kept an LA team in contention with   glue and duct tape, Larry Bowa?s Phantastic Phils came out of nowhere to challenge   for the NL East, and Bobby Cox lost John Smoltz the starter, found him as a   closer and never had a first basemen ? but still managed to make the playoffs.

What did Dierker do?? He took a team with a good offense and some good pitchers   and put them in the playoffs.? That doesn?t count against you when it comes   time to vote on the manager of the year, but it doesn?t cinch the deal.? Dierker?s   a safe choice (he didn?t win by amassing a lot of first place votes), he snuck   in because there were so many interesting managers in the NL this year that   there wasn?t a unifying choice.

The AL? Manager of the Year (voted by

NamePoints1stBallots(11 max)
Lou Piniella42710
Art Howe2628
Tom Kelly1113
Joe Torre604
Mike Scioscia303
Jerry Manuel101
Jimy Williams101

The importance   of a baseball manager is difficult to quantify.? Bill James wrote an entire   book on the subject, Total Baseball rates managers on the ability to over perform   expected winning percentages, but most talk seems to centre around whether or   not a manager is good (winning) or bad (losing).? I see managing as two tasks:

  1. Long term managing ? Keeping players healthy, setting up a rotation, keeping   the bullpen fresh, developing fresh.
  3. Game managing ? Using strategies that help your team win   games

With that in mind, at the end of the season it is pretty easy to evaluate the   first task.? However, game managing, like a catcher?s ability to call a game,   is difficult to track.? It basically boils down to who got lucky this year ?   should we reward that?? I?m not sure.?

The only manager to be named on every ballot was Lou Pinella.? Pinella skippered   the best, and most surprising team, of the year.? The Mariners won 116 games.?   That would be a great total for a team with Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Junior   and Alex Rodriguez ? it?s an astounding total for a team that lost those players.?

Was Pinella a good long term manager?? I would say yes.? He was working with   (surprisingly) the oldest team in the American League ? and managed to get them   through the season without too many injuries.? He had a very stable rotation,   a successful bullpen, a good bench and he coerced (or was lucky enough to get)   Bret Boone?s best season ever.

Was Pinella a good game manager? Again, I would say yes.? Two easy indicators   are his team?s performance in one run games and their performance against their   Pythagorean record.? The Mariners were 26-12 in one run games, which is excellent.?   They beat their Pythagorean record by 7 games, which is also excellent.

Does Pinella deserve the award? Yes.? He won 116 games, with a team that wasn?t   even a consensus pick to win the division.? I don?t think that the Mariners   were the most surprising team: that would be the Twins.? For that reason I voted   for Tom Kelly, but Pinella probably the right pick ? How often does a team win   116 games?

A final thought:

It seems to me that we have far more tools at our disposal to evaluate General   Managers than we do Field Managers.? So much of the Field Manager?s job is dictated   by what the GM gives him.? Why isn?t there more publicity for the GM of the   year?? The one who makes the best trades, deals with his budget the best, promotes   the best minor leaguers, avoids bad free agents, etc.

James Fraser Posted: November 19, 2001 at 05:00 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: November 19, 2001 at 12:13 AM (#604247)
But David, while the 26-12 record in one-run games underperformed the 116-46 record by 3%, it's an outstanding (even astounding) record for one-run games, where teams are almost always within three or four games of .500. I would be willing to bet that teams win two-thirds of their one-run games only as often as they win two-thirds of their overall gamres, despite the distortions of small sample sizes.
   2. Don Malcolm Posted: November 19, 2001 at 12:14 AM (#604251)
That's pretty close to correct, Craig. Thirty-seven teams have played .667 or better since 1901; forty-four teams have played .667 in one-run games.

Seattle's 26-12 record ranks 24th all-time. The most recent team to have a better one-run WPCT is the '86 Boston Red Sox (24-10). The 1998 Yankees were 21-10 in one-run games, which ranks 29th all-time.

Half of those 44 teams who played .667 ball or better in one-run games did not win a pennant or a division, BTW.

There are 227 teams who've played .600 ball or better in one-run games since 1901, which means that there is usually at least one team doing so each season.

Here's a question for someone to research: since the inception of the Manager of the Year Award, what manager won the most games in a season and didn't win the award? This could be subdivided into two categories: teams that had the most wins in the league and those who didn't. Art Howe might be the winner in the second category, but which manager had the highest league-leading total of wins and was bypassed for the award?
   3. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 20, 2001 at 12:14 AM (#604253)
Add to Seattle's performance that they had the best defense in the league - they had a .726 Defensive Efficiency Rating, the highest that I've ever seen, in an era where DERs are much lower on average than they were when Bill James was first doing them. There wasn't another team in the AL over .700, and only 3 NL teams (just barely).

At the other extreme - Cleveland had a .667 DER, the lowest that I've ever seen. For the uninitiated, that means that one of every three fair balls in the ballpark put into play against the Indians resulted in a baserunner.

I don't see how Seattle repeats at anything close to this level next year. Their pitchers are about as defense and park dependent, as a group, as any staff I've seen; their pitching-specific numbers on the road were OK but not outstanding (7th in HR allowed, sixth in fewest walks, fifth in strikeouts). It's not going to take much of a decline on defense to affect this group. If Giambi re-ups with the A's and Piniella manages to bring the Mariners in ahead of them next year, he'll deserve MOY again.

-- MWE
   4. scruff Posted: November 20, 2001 at 12:14 AM (#604254)
Managers w/100 wins that did not to win manager of the year (since award began in 1993):

Best record in league:

Mike Hargrove 112.5 (1995 prorated)
Davey Johnson 108 (1986)
Bobby Cox 106 (1998)
Bobby Cox 104 (1993)
Bobby Cox 103 (1999)
Tony LaRussa 103 (1990)
Bobby Cox 101.25 (1995 prorated)
Bobby Cox 101 (1997)
Davey Johnson 100 (1988)

Not best record in league:

Art Howe 102 (2001)
Buck Showalter 100 (1999)

As far as the NL award goes, every year it is Dusty Baker's award to lose. If his team makes the playoffs, he gets the award. If if they don't make the award he can win it (1993). Leyland and Lasorda each have two, and Dusty is the only one with three. No one else, including Cox has won the NL award more than once.

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