Cedric Tallis’ name is little known today. Few talk about him as a great or influential GM. Perhaps that’s because he was fired before his greatest work, the 1970s Royals AL West dynasty, come to fruition and because his stay wth the Yankees was both short and difficult to decipher. Tallis’ first GM job was to turn the Royals from an idea into a ball club. He did so magnificently. The team contended long before prior expansion franchises had and set the model for how a new team could be run. After moving on from KC to the Yanks, he succeeded Gabe Paul and the Bombers won the 1978 under his watch. He lasted another year as a solo GM, then things started getting weird. Tallis was named the team President in 1980, and Gene Michael was named GM. Then when manager Dick Hoswer left the team after the season, Stick decided to be the team’s manager instead, so Tallis resumed his GM duties with a twist. George Steinbrenner decided to create a Frankenxec and named Tallis and Bill Bergesch co-GMs. Predictably, it didn’t last long, and in July, 1983, Steinbrenner replaced them with Murray Cook, the team’s scouting director. So the latter two and a half years of Tallis’ GM duties are not included in what you’ll see below. We couldn’t easily untangle what was his and what was Bergesch’s. For that matter, it’s hard to disentangle George Steinbrenner’s workings from his GMs’. We can’t really know how often he overrode his GMs and made moves on his own. So what we show below is only Tallis’ work in KC and his first two years as NY’s GM in 1978 and 1979.
- NAME: * = member of the Hall of Miller and Eric
- RECORD: Won-Loss record while GM was in office
- PCT: Winning percentage
- vs EXP: An adaptation of the expected wins formula Bill James introduced in his managers book. Except we use pythagenpat records instead of actual records to calculate it.
- OCT: Postseason apperances (starting in 1969).
- OCT v EXP: Measures postseason appearances against the basic probability of any random team making it.
- WS APP: World Series appearances
- WS APP v EXP: Similar to OCT v EXP
- WS WINS: Championships won
- WS WINS v EXP: Ditto
- MGR PYTH: This is the team’s variance against its Pythagenpat record as a measure of how much value the GM’s manager brought to the team.
|NAME||RECORD||PCT.||VS EXP||OCT||OCT VS EXP||WS APP||WS APP VS EXP||WS WINS||WS WINS VS EXP||VS PYPAT|
Considering that most of his years were spent bootstrapping an expansion team, a .505 winning percentage is impressive. All the good stuff that happened to KC in the 1970s took place after Ewing Kauffmann fired Tallis in June of 1974. The R’s won 90 games in 1975, finishing 7 back of the A’s. When the Mustachioed Gang took a step back in 1976, the Royals stepped into the void. When all of Finley’s best players fled via free agency, the Royals already owned the catbird seat. They won 90 or more games five times in eight years mostly thanks to players that Tallis picked up. On the Yankees, it was the opposite. He inherited a World Series winner, made a few minor tweaks, and saw them win a title. In general, however, his legacy was quite extensive. Players Tallis originally required comprised a big chunk of lots of playoff teams:
- 1976 Royals: 90%
- 1977 Royals: 80%
- 1978 Yankees and Royals: 1% and 66%
- 1980 Royals and Yankees: 75% and 54%
- 1981 Yankees and Royals: 26% and 67%
- 1984 Royals: 29%
- 1985 Royals: 35%
Now let’s look at how the GMs themselves did at constructing competitive clubs.
- med% GOAL CONT: In a typical season, how close did the value he acquired get him to a contending team (defined as a .550 winning percentage)?
- med% GOAL WS: In a typical season, how close did the value he acquired get him to a contending team (defined variably across time based on the typical winning percentage of the World Series entrant with the lower winning percentage)?
- WAR IN: Inbound WAR from transactions (WAR always means BBREF WAR)
- IN/162: How much WAR (current or future) acquired per season
- WAR OUT: Outbound WAR from transactions
- OUT/162: How much WAR (current or future) given away per season
- IN/OUT: Ratio of Inbound WAR to Outbound WAR
|NAME||med%GOAL CONT||med%GOAL WS||WAR IN||IN/162||WAR OUT||OUT/162||IN/OUT|
In terms of his WAR IN and WAR OUT record, keep in mind that Tallis had something of a structural advantage. He acquired all the players for a new team for its first 5.5 years. That allows him to pile up the WAR pretty quickly. When we got to the Yanks, he had to fill holes, not an entire roster, so the pace of WAR IN slackened. On the other hand, what’s really impressive about Tallis is that he didn’t give much away. That could be structural as well. The castoffs from expansion teams aren’t likely to be highly valuable in the first place. Second, he arrived at the dawn of the free agent era, which helps minimize losses as we calculate them (since we only accrue WAR OUT until the player’s first likely free agency). But Tallis did do a fine job of finding core players that the organization subsequently held onto. Here are his highest-impact moves, that is anything with a net benefit of at lest 10 WAR to the acquiring team:
AMATEUR FREE AGENTS
- 1970: Frank White (35)
- 1968: Paul Splittorff (23)
- 1969: Al Cowens (12)
- 1971: George Brett (88), Steve Busby (16)
- 1972: Dennis Leonard (26)
- 1974: Willie Wilson (42)
- 1979: Don Mattingly (42)
- 1969: Al Fitzmorris (16), Dick Drago (12), Paul Schaal (10)
- 1978: Tommy John (16)
- 12/3/1969 (+46): Received Amos Otis and Bob Johnson (49) for Joe Foy (3)
- 12/2/70 (+25): Received Bruce Dal Canton, Jerry May, and Freddy Patek (26) for Jim Campanis, Jackie Hernandez, and Bob Johnson (1)
- 12/2/71 (+23): Received John Mayberry and David Granger (21) for Lance Clemons and Jim York (-2)
- 11/30/72 (+26): Received Hal McRae and Wayne Simpson (28) for Roger Nelson and Richie Scheinblum (2)
- 11/10/78 (+17): Received Greg Jemison, Juan Beniquez, Mike Griffin, Paul Mirabella, and Dave Righetti (22) for Mike Heath, Sparky Lyle, Larry McCall, Dave Rajsich, Domingo Ramos, and cash (5)
- 7/30/79 (+12): Received Amos Lewis, Oscar Gamble, Ray Fontenot, and Gene Nelson (14) for Mickey Rivers, Robert Polinsky, Neal Mersch, and Mark Softy (2)
That’s some really amazing trading. In total Tallis netted 217 WAR by trade while giving up only 115. That’s perhaps the most impressive trade record we’ve seen so far.
Which isn’t to say everything was dancing ponies and rainbows. He had some clinkers too.
- 2/2/71 (-13): Received Carl Taylor (0) for Ellie Rodriguez (13)
- 10/25/72 (-14): Received Gene Garber (1) for Jim Rooker (14) [Tallis’ successor Joe Burke sold Garber and 15 future WAR to the Phillies after the reliever got off to a rocky start in 1974.]
- 11/1/79 (-14): Received Ruppert Jones and Jim Lewis (1) for Rick Anderson, Jim Beattie, Juan Beniquez, and Jerry Narron (14)
On the whole, Tallis seems to have been an incredibly talented executive, but it’s very hard to think of him as having a strong case in light of his very short tenure, the meddling of Steinbrenner, and the fact he was fired before the Royals really started to win.