NEW YORK, NY – What’s a good MLB Manager worth? Or a good Coach? In Major League Baseball, can a good field general get you 5 additional wins across a 162 game schedule? How about the other sports? Does a good Head Coach in the NFL enable an extra win or two across a 16 game regular season slate? Or in the NBA and NHL? And can a Manager/Coach be ineffective-meaning can he actually cost his team a win or several wins per season? Is the importance of these guys actually overstated? Do they even matter? I say, absolutely they do.
It is difficult to quantify, though the SABR nerds living in their Mothers’ basements will certainly try, since every day they create farcical ways to measure production that only they understand, and they believe indicate anything. Sandy Alderson’ “Bases per Out” nonsense, which is some absurd synthesis of data that Sandy created and that he actually uses to evaluate players is one such example of over thinking everything. If you’ve shoved a sharp stick in your eye or watched the Mets offense lately (redundant, I know) you surely know that advanced statistical analysis is unnecessary. Your eyes will do the trick just fine. They’re putrid – the Mets hitters I mean. The other Stat that is all the rage across the game today is “Hard Hit Balls.” This is the one where the PhD’s have revealed that surprise!…The guys who hit the ball hard are usually more successful than the guys who don’t hit the ball so hard. What I take from this ridiculous data is that good players are better than bad players, and I’ve never crunched a number in my life.
But back to the value of Managers and Coaches. There’s a saying, now overused, that says the best managers-in any field-are the ones who put their people in the best possible position to succeed. Terry Collins, the nominal field manager of the New York Mets has cost his team about 4-5 wins this season already through a series of quantifiable mistakes that “better” managers would not have committed. I’m being kind in saying 4, by the way. I watch a LOT of Met games. Across town, Joe Girardi‘s Yankees have underachieved-even with their starting rotation in shambles. In fact through a combination of poor bullpen management, questionable batting orders and an OCD-like obsession with infield “shifts,” Girardi has cost the Yankees 4 Wins as well.
111 years after the very first World Series was held, we’ve seen managers who’ve gotten the very most out of his team’s talent. Tony LaRussa, who invented baseball (just ask him) added tangible value in leading the 2006 Cardinals to upsets over the much more talented Mets and Tigers in the NLCS and World Series. Old Trader Jack McKeon of the ’03 Florida Marlins also comes to mind as an example of Managers making a positive and quantifiable difference. On the other hand, Jim Leyland had a reputation in Pittsburgh for being a Master as a field manager. The only problem there was that Leyland’s Pirates teams were actually loaded with talent and never even appeared in a World Series. Even more egregious was Leyland’s “magic” with the Tigers from 2006 through 2013. Over the past couple of seasons, no team in the Game had more overwhelming talent offensively, or more dominant pitching than the Tigers. Detroit made 2 World Series appearances in Leyland’s tenure, winning neither. Dusty Baker as Manager of the Giants and Reds annually cost his teams 5-7 wins. Joe Torre with the Yankees got by in spite of himself for years. Overwhelming talent including the greatest Closer in history can overcome a multitude of sins, and Joe committed the sins-but was routinely bailed out by great players ultimately. A mediocre Manager in 3 stops prior to arriving in the Bronx, he didn’t suddenly become a genius.
How about Football? I believe Bill Parcells added 2 Wins to every team he ever coached. For the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick’s meticulous game preparation and ultimate control of his locker room translates into 2-3 Wins that would not otherwise be there with a different coach running things. Even if Tom Brady was still the QB. Ray Handley? How’d he work out?Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers? Good for 2 Wins per year. Jason Garrett of the Cowboys? Instead of 8-8 every year they would be winning 10 games every year with any other coach. Rex Ryan has meant 1 additional Win every year for his Jets.
The NBA? Look no further than Mike Woodson, late of the Knicks. Possibly the worst Coach ever in any sport at any level. His inability to hold his players accountable or to demand effort cost his team this year more than 14 Wins!
Is the Rangers current run up to the Cup a result of Alain Vigneault? Did Torts cost his Rangers teams the chance to do the same? Has AV made that kind of difference?
What are your thoughts? Best managers, best managerial jobs? (good job/bad job) Who makes the most difference?
Come back tomorrow for the latest Meet The Matts Radio Podcast and/or Cookie’s Corner.
Did somebody mention Tony LaRussa?