To help get a better grip on players we considered for the HoME, we used our Saberhagen List, a simple list of questions used to assess a player’s candidacy. For managers, we’re introducing something new. Another list. It’s our Sveum List. In other words, it’s our System to Vet, Examine, and Understand Managers.
Dale Sveum was an infielder who played for parts of a dozen seasons from 1986-1999, only three times appearing in as many as 100 contests. In 1987 he swatted 25 homers and drove in 95 runs for Brewer team that certainly would have made the playoffs under today’s rules. Alas, those 25 homers were over 36% of his career total. Sveum would finish his career below replacement level, with -2.3 WAR.
Fortunately for Sveum, he had a second career as a manager. Less fortunately, his managerial record made his playing record look not so bad. With a dozen games left in the 2008 season, Sveum took over for Ned Yost, a guy who oversaw a Brewer collapse in 2007 and was on the losing end of 11 of his final 14 games in Milwaukee. Sveum piloted the Brew Crew into October, lost to the World Champ Phillies in four games in the NLDS, and lost his job after that. The Cubs hired him four years later, and he led the North Siders to consecutive fifth place finishes. That’s probably it for Sveum’s managerial career.
So why did we pick Sveum to be the manager to represent our system? Simple. There’s no acronym in “System to Vet, Examine, and Understand Managers” that spells out “Earl Weaver”.
In order to vet, examine, and understand managers, we ask these questions…
- Did his teams tend to improve when he took over?
- Is there anything about the teams he took over that would affect our perceptions of his record positively or negatively? (E.g.: Takes over a terrible team and leads them to .500 record in first year, which is amazing but looks mediocre out of context.)
- When he left a team, did it tend to get noticeably better or worse?
- How often did his teams outperform or underperform their Pythagorean record? Is it attributable to his in-game tactical managing? (E.g.: Great bullpen handler who gets a couple extra wins all the time from it.)
- Did his teams often come out of nowhere or beat expectations? Were they frequently disappointing?
- Is there reasonable evidence that he coaxed better performance from his individual players than a typical manager did? Or that players worsened on his watch?
- Are managers with comparable achievements in the HoME? If not, is it because his record is unique or because managers with comparable records are not HoME worthy?
- Did his strategic thinking help or hurt his teams in noticeable ways (e.g.: Bobby Cox’s bullpen building)?
- Could he still motivate teams to perform after being with them for more than three or five seasons?
Look forward to future posts with some SVEUM thinking. And check out the results of our second election on Friday.