The Mockingbird

Please Don’t Shoot the Meaningless Figurehead – He is Doing the Best he Can

with 8 comments

Another myth the projections blow out of the water is that a manager’s in-game strategy means a lot. You don’t have to go to many street corners to find someone willing to venture that John Gibbons has cost us “at least 10 games” this year, like that time he pulled that pitcher, or didn’t pull that pitcher, or went with his gut, or played the numbers, etc. Here’s an article from Jay’s Nest that says “Gibby has personally lost about 6 or 7 games this year alone–despite injury.”

Using the same rationale as clutch hitting (below), ALL the effects not directly related to the team’s ability to score or prevent runs have added up to less than two games over the entire season. There is simply not a manager in the league who could squeeze a 55-43 record (7 more wins) out of a team that has scored 9 more runs than they’ve given up.

In fact, looking at two universally lauded managers- Jim Leyland and Tony Larussa, it’s interesting to see that their teams have exactly the records that their runs for and against predict, despite the notion that they can conjure up wins out of thin air.

There’s still a lot they might be doing to help their team score more runs in the long term (such as nurturing players and putting them in positions where they are more likely to perform) and the short term (shrewd pitching matchups, defensive alignments) – but as a rule of thumb it takes 10 runs saved/added to equal a win, and that’s a lot of good moves to have a noticeable effect.

Usually when people complain about a manager it’s usually for not coming up with the right move in a specific situation that would have won/saved a close game. And those almost entirely even out- no manager defies his team’s numbers.


Written by halejon

July 23, 2007 at 9:20 am

8 Responses

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  1. Is this a veiled shot at me? 🙂
    I’ve never been a Gibbons believer!


    July 23, 2007 at 2:06 pm

  2. I assure you that you’re not anywhere near his only detractor. I’m not crazy about Gibby myself, I just think that the effect of a manager is HIGHLY overrated, and it’s nice to have something to back that up with.

    It’s one thing not to be impressed and to call him out on his questionable moves- it’s another to state categorically “he cost us that game” when he makes a marginal decision and focus all the blame for this mediocre season on him when there are a TON of downright obvious glaring other causes…


    July 23, 2007 at 4:25 pm

  3. Hey man,

    I have to defend and argue with my partner David Moro here.

    You are right about the fact that managers have only a small influence on the outcome of a game.
    When you are in a tight game in Minnesota, Downs on the mound (Janssen ready in the bullpen) and Torii Hunter (over .350 avg. against LHP) coming at the plate, you make a pitching change!!!

    My colleague David Moro was wrong, I think, when he said he cost us that much game, but he made some truly awful decisions in the first half and if that means only 2 losses, I want them back. Know what I mean?

    Good site, good content. Nice to see the Jays bloggers putting up some solid post on a daily basis.

    If you have the time, contact me at


    Dave Rouleau

    July 23, 2007 at 5:17 pm

  4. Thanks for the feedback- and I meant that link as an example of some serious commentators quoting a high number of games lost than a shot at the Jays Nest, by the way.

    I know what you mean, all right- Gibby has had me in tears a number of times this season. I’m actually still having nightmares about the first time Hunter burned us when lefties were hitting .360 off of Frasor and we left him in to blow the save in the 8th. There’s no question he’s made serious mistakes, and 2 wins over half a season is a big deal, wherever it’s coming from.

    I’m just trying to get back to basics a little here. There is an incredible amount of material online and in the media right now clutching at straws for why this season has gone so surprisingly badly. Lack of clutch hitting, incompetent managing, too many big swingers, station-to-station offence, etc. All great topics for debate, but I think the “hit the ball, throw the ball” theory of what wins games is being somewhat neglected…


    July 23, 2007 at 6:03 pm

  5. You could not be more right my friend.

    The media in Toronto has got it all wrong. It’s fun to see people who do it for free put more work into their craft than people who ARE paid.

    It’s also sad….

    Dave Rouleau

    July 23, 2007 at 8:11 pm

  6. Tell me about it. Toronto has a bunch of serious hacks covering the Jays, from bizarre baseball statements to outright factual errors. Blair is pretty good, but guys like Griffin and Marty York?? Unbelievable. I’ll take the bloggers any day- their news is just as fresh these days and at least they’re amusing.

    Love your Flying Through the Farm, btw- I have no idea where you find half of that information and nobody does anything even close.


    July 23, 2007 at 8:38 pm

  7. […] provided a significant difference to two floundering ballclubs. Nahh, it must have been the meaningless figurehead. Ricciardi and his treatment of the third base position have constantly been a mystery. No matter […]

  8. Sure, why not fire the lowest-paid guy in uniform. If managers earned player-minimum (and I doubt they do), ya think maybe guys would “train up”, acquire all the skills they could, compete?


    May 23, 2008 at 4:11 pm

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