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2016 Update, Managers

2016 Update, Managers

joe-maddonLike we’ve done at all the playing positions, let’s see how much good, or ill, active managers did themselves this year. Skippers present a particular challenge since our analysis of them is further removed than players from the results. There is no manager WAR (at least, no one has come up with one yet, but give it time). But both Miller and I have our own means for evaluating managers, as we’ll see below. One quick note before we get into, the managerial rankings below are among only those with 1000 games at the helm, plus select active skippers.

This brings to a close our review of the 2016 season. If you missed anything, all of the links are here: 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, C, RP, LHP, and RHP.

Managers
Dusty Baker
All-time rank in wins
2015: 17
2016: 17

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 44
2016: 44

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 26
2016: 26

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 19
2016: 13

HoME Outlook:
Baker took a step up in 2016, and he once again showed that he’s a good manager in situations where a team needs to chill out a little to maximize its potential. After the Matt Williams/Jon Papelbon 2015 disaster, that’s exactly what the Nats needed and got from Dusty. The numbers versus Pythagenpat and versus expected wins suggest that Baker’s problem has not been getting the most out of people. Rather his ability to squeeze something extra from his veterans has papered over talent gaps on his rosters. But Dusty really, really needs to win a World Series one of these days. Heck, he’s only been to one World Series. The only HoME manager with a similar post-season record is Al Lopez, but Lopez also owns a better wining percentage, a better historical-adjusted winning percentage (see Eric’s article on this for more), and two World Series appearances, if no wins. Perhaps no manager needs a World Series win more than Baker because there’s some question marks on his resume. Did his handling of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior cost the Cubs the opportunity to go on a run of dominance in the early-mid 2000s? How much do we debit him for making the playoffs eight times (so far) and getting to Series just once? Winning a title would provide some ballast against these kinds of questions. He’s 67, so he’s probably got three to five years left. A healthy Strassburg, a resurgent Harper, the release of Ryan Zimmerman, and a decent shortstop would go a long way. That is if Mike Rizzo is listening….

Bruce Bochy
All-time rank in wins
2015: 16
2016: 15

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 78
2016: 75

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 31
2016: 38

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 43
2016: 39

HoME Outlook:
Regardless of what happens moving forward with an aging outfield and questionable back ends of the rotation and pen, we’re looking at one of the absolute most successful managers in history. Only Connie Mack, Joe Torre, Joe McCarthy, Walter Alston, and Casey Stengel can tout more regular season wins and more World Series titles than Bochy. Two years from now he’s going to be 11th in history in wins. If he manages for five more seasons, there’s a good shot he passes Sparky Anderson for 6th place. He probably punched his ticket a couple of years ago when he won his third title. He’s certainly there now, particularly because it would seem a manager or three gets elected to the Hall before Bochy retires.

Terry Francona
All-time rank in wins
2015: 34
2016: 30

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 42
2016: 40

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 41
2016: 31

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 34
2016: 31

HoME Outlook:
Francona is only 57 years old, and he’s now managed 16 seasons. He’s going to be able to stay in the league just as long as he likes. Who knew when he was cutting his teeth with the Phillies and struggling with tactical ideas that he’d be one of this era’s best skippers? But he’s learned at every juncture and this year we saw what he can do. His performance in 2016 has Manager of the Year stamped all over it. It’s possible it’ll be stamped by the Catholic Church as a miracle. Showing strong strategic and tactical acumen, he weathered injuries to two All-Star level starters, and somehow got the Indians into a good home-stretch kick despite having to get five innings three or four times a week from Josh Tomlin, Randy Tomlin, Lilly Tomlin, and the son of the guy who used to bang the big drum in the Cleveland bleachers. He turned Andrew Miller into a weapon like we haven’t seen since at least the late 1980s, and in October, he’s managed to get about more than half his innings from the best pitcher in the AL, the best reliever in the AL, and Cody Allen by doubling down on the Joe Torre short-series formula. If we see a move toward multi-inning relief aces or using your best reliever based on the situation, not the inning, then Tito will deserve a lot of the credit. With two World Series titles in a dozen years and so very close to three, he’s probably punched his HoME ticket. But this could very well be just a beginning. The Indians have a trio of talented young pitchers who could take them a long way. They have several young players that any team would covet (Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, and Michael Brantley), plus a number of home-grown contributors. It’s easy to see the Tribe staying on top for another three or four years, especially as the Tigers age, the Chisox keep trying to find a path forward, the Twins wallow, and the Royals’ core gets too expensive for the likes of David Glass. Francona is very likely to reach 2000 wins, he’s already got the titles—it’s all gravy from now on.

Joe Girardi
All-time rank in wins
2015: 79
2016: 72

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 18
2016: 22

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 23
2016: 19

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 49
2016: 50

HoME Outlook:
If Francona isn’t the AL Manager of the Year for 2016, Girardi probably is. The Yankees moved the closers of both World Series teams as well as their only hitter with 230 trips to the plate and an OPS+ over 100, and then they made a run at the playoffs. Gary Sanchez and Starlin Castro provide young hope for the offense moving forward, and the clearing of the contracts of A-Rod, Teixeira, and Sabathia in the next couple of years will allow the Yanks to spend some big bucks. In short, and the current Yankee rebuild seems like it could bear fruit. If it does, Girardi will be poised to make a run at another title in the coming years. Up until now though, if you’re trying to make a case for Girardi, that Pythagenpat number is where you point. He has just one World Series title to date and likely will need to add another, particularly if he hangs around the Yankees for much longer and is compared to their great managers. He’s sixth in all-time wins in the Bronx, and four above him are in the HoME, in no small part because they’re all huge winners of the Series. Girardi does seem to have a decent disposition, and he’s able to get along with a General Manager in Brian Cashman who embraces a modern baseball philosophy. Given those facts, a manager who’s just 52 could have lots of years left in him. And if he manages another ten seasons, he’ll reach the all-time win territory that would seem to make him a Hall of Famer. For us, he’s going to need at least that. There’s time though.

Clint Hurdle
All-time rank in wins
2015: 64
2016: 55

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 94
2016: 94

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 94
2016: 94

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 57
2016: 65

HoME Outlook:
Hurdle gets a lot of credit in SABR circles for his embrace of data, and that’s a real thing. His work in Pittsburgh was, until this year, very good, but Andrew McCutchen’s unforeseen goose egg scuttled any Pirate hopes. He hasn’t been able to get the Buccos deep into the playoffs, however, and that hurts. Especially because his overall record is still more than 40 games below .500. Unless the Burghers go on a nice, long streak of success and reach the big dance, it’s hard to see Hurdle rising above the HoME fray.

Joe Maddon
All-time rank in wins
2015: 73
2016: 66

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 45
2016: 39

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 56
2016: 55

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 34
2016: 26

HoME Outlook:
On one hand, he’s 63. On the other, he just won his first World Series and has a roster and organization that could get him back there again and again. His Cubs won 103 games this year, making it an even 100 average in his two years in Chicago. And there’s readon to believe Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, even Jason Heyward, and more could be better in 2017. The pitching isn’t as young, but Kyle Hendricks should be around for some time, and there are still stars in Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. Yes, the pen could use some work, though that’s likely the easiest place to upgrade. Forget the fact that Madden was likely out-managed in the Series by Terry Francona. We’re going to remember the title, not necessarily strange pitching changes and safety squeeze calls. Can he manage until he’s 70? Can he overcome those years with the under-funded Rays, or does he even need to. Let’s not forget that he averaged just shy of 90 wins per year over his last seven there. Yes, his age is working against him even though Maddon seems like a guy who’s going to be doing some pretty high-level work for 2040 and beyond. How much of that work be done in a major league dugout, I don’t know. Managing beyond age 70 is very uncommon. Bringing a title or two will have a lot to say about his chances.

Mike Scioscia
All-time rank in wins
2015: 24
2016: 23

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 27
2016: 30

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 8
2016: 13

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 22
2016: 28

HoME Outlook:
With another year like 2016, will Scioscia’s grip on the levers of power in the OC start to slip? He’s generally been an excellent manager, but 2016 was the first season in which he lost more than 3 games to Pythagenpat (he was -6). The team suffered injuries to key players, and its front office seems unable to figure out what to do with the roster when the obvious move is to clone Mike Trout eight times. Kidding aside, the question here is whether Scioscia can get anything out of the Angels’ cobbled-together collection of one superstar, Albert Pujols’ moldering remains, some broken pitchers, an assortment of uninspiring regulars, and Matt Shoemaker’s beard. It’s possible that no one can do well in that situation. It’s also possible that the team’s skills are not well suited to Sciosciaball, which has always relied on contact, batting average, and aggressive baserunning. Actually, that’s a lot like recent Royals teams. Well, Scioscia’s career numbers are going to both suffer and improve in the next few seasons. He’ll creep toward 2000 wins, but the Angels’ alarming lack of high-impact minor-league talent, and their lack of direction at the major league level will eat away at his winning percentage and other rates. And, really, Scioscia, like every manager, would benefit from another World Series victory. Or even just getting to the World Series. Mike Trout won’t be Mantle Part II forever, so the clock is ticking.

Buck Showalter
All-time rank in wins
2015: 31
2016: 25

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 54
2016: 51

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 47
2016: 38

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 6
2016: 6

HoME Outlook:
Buck Showalter is a great manager. It’s unfortunate for him that his teams didn’t recognize that fact in time. Right after losing his job in New York, Joe Torre won a bunch of titles. Right after losing it in Arizona, Bob Brenly won for the D’backs. And a couple of seasons after losing it in Texas, Ron Washington went to two straight World Series. Sone might say that Buck just couldn’t get the job done, but the rank in games above expected wins above says he didn’t quite have the talent and did a wonderful job with what he had on hand. In Baltimore these last six full seasons, we see a seemingly undermanned roster that has gotten to the playoffs three times. Buck is 60 right now. If he manages for five more years and manages a shade above .500 along the way, he’s going to pass five Hall of Famers in wins and stand 18th all-time. If that happens, an argument is going to be made. But if he doesn’t win the World Series, it’ll be hard for that argument to resonate too much.

Ned Yost
All-time rank in wins
2015: 66
2016: 61

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 95
2016: 95

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 71
2016: 64

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 43
2016: 47

HoME Outlook:
2016 didn’t quite go Ned’s way. Not like the last couple years have. He, himself, didn’t do an awful job, but the magic wasn’t there, and the team faded badly down the stretch. Wade Davis’ injury didn’t help, nor Mike Moustakas’, nor the one that hampered Alex Gordon, nor the one that sapped Lorenzo Cain’s power. You get the idea. Yost did reasonably well with what he had, and with better health the Rs could at least compete for the Wild Card next year, or depending on the Indians’ luck, maybe another Central title. Yet, Yost is almost 50 games under .500, was once fired right before the playoffs because of his tactical inabilities, and has won 90+ games in a season just once (in 2015, natch). It’s pretty bleak for him, and you wouldn’t want to put a lot of faith in his case.

Don Mattingly
All-time rank in wins
2015: 132
2016: 120

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 24
2016: 29

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 53
2016: 51

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 51
2016: 48

HoME Outlook:
I don’t think he should have lost his job in Los Angeles, but there’s a lot behind the scenes I’m not privy to. And it’s not like the Dodgers won anything big under him despite three consecutive NL West titles to end his Dodger career. He’s a kid at age 55, and he’s had his share of success already. Of course, Mattingly’s is an unfinished story. His candidacy as a first baseman is clearly short of HoME standards. And his managerial campaign has a lot still to be told. Maybe he’ll one day be a combination candidate. We’ll have to wait to see.

Terry Collins
All-time rank in wins
2015: 76
2016: 69

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 85
2016: 84

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 85
2016: 83

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 90
2016: 87

HoME Outlook:
Just one player got into 150 games for the Metropolitans this year (Curtis Granderson, exactly 150). One other player reached 140 (Asdrubal Cabrera, exactly 141). Just two pitchers made 30 starts for the men in blue and orange, and one of them was Bartolo Colon. That’s the kind of year it was in Flushing. And yet, Collins got the team into the Wild Card game despite half an ineffective season from Matt Harvey, and two-thirds of an effective season each from Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz. Seems like a pretty good job of managing from my seat, but I didn’t watch the team every day, and some do question Collins’ tactical choices. Overall, he’s a .500 manager 1850 games into his career. Wouldn’t you know that he’s also almost exactly average against Pythagenpat and against Expected Wins. So, basically, he’s Joe Average manager (at least among those with 1000 games managed). It’s possible that all those young Mets arms come together for several seasons, and the Mets steal the Nationals’ thunder over the remainder of this decade. Your guess is as good as mine. If that happened and Collins got the team back to the Fall Classic, he could start carving out an argument for some bronze. On a lark, I might lay tiny money on his long, long, long odds and hope for a big payout. Or I could buy a Powerball ticket the next time the jackpot reaches Never Ever Land, whichever.

John Farrell
All-time rank in wins
2015: 133
2016: 127

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 91
2016: 70

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 101
2016: 104

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 101
2016: 87

HoME Outlook:
Farrell is early in his career, and he already has one title with the Red Sox in 2013. Plus, he’s set up with a wealthy organization with an impressive core of young offensive talent. He could certainly win another title in the next year or three. Of course, he could lose his job if he somehow finished last for the third time in four years in 2017. Age matters for managers since bulk really seems to matter, which makes Farrell at just 54 on opening day next season somewhat attractive. He certainly needs more bulk, and it would seem he needs to do more with the talent he has.

Mike Matheny
All-time rank in wins
2015: 134
2016: 133

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 11
2016: 13

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 54
2016: 55

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 51
2016: 54

HoME Outlook:
Meh: 86 wins is pretty danged close to the second Wild Card, but it’s like finishing just one vote behind Jill Stein in last week’s election. Matheny wasn’t the worst thing about the Cards’ year, and in just five years at the helm, he’s averaging 92 wins and a .569 winning percentage. That’s a nice start to a career, especially in the modern age. Matheny potentially has a long career ahead of him. He’s well thought of as a leader of men, and if he isn’t a great tactical manager, we know from Terry Francona’s example that a guy can learn that stuff. The Cards are at that place where the roster is starting to turn over, and the veterans he inherited from Tony La Russa are aging out or moving on. We’ll learn a lot as Matheny molds the next-gen Redbirds.

Bob Melvin
All-time rank in wins
2015: 70
2016: 67

All-time rank in winning percentage
2015: 71
2016: 84

All-time rank in games above Pythagenpat
2015: 94
2016: 102

All-time rank in games above Expected Wins
2015: 96
2016: 109

HoME Outlook:
It doesn’t appear that Bob Melvin is a great manager, nor has he been an incredibly successful one. On the other hand, he got his first job at age 41. Next year will be his sixth full season in Oakland, but I’m predicting he won’t get through the year. Will he be hired again right away? That’s the question. If he puts in another decade as a .500 manager, he’s very much in the territory the Hall considers. For the HoME, he’s likely to need more than just that bulk.

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