Thursday, May 30, 2013

MLB's Best Managers And GMs

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 11,2010: Manager Bobby Cox #6 of
the Atlanta Braves against the San Francisco Giants during
Game Four of the NLDS of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at
Turner Field on October 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Brian Goff, Contributor, 5/22/2013

Over the past 40 years, who are the best MLB managers and general managers?   I recently explored this question in an academic piece published in Managerial and Decision Economics.  Of course, one could just take winning percentage or championships won, but where managers have taken over successful teams, continuing that success is not as impressive as turning a team around.  In addition,  some franchises, such as the Yankees, are located in large metropolitan areas and given league revenue sharing practices, can turn this population base into a big financial advantage.  Finally, managerial relationships are hierarchical — the owner answers for everybody, the general managers, typically, makes roster decisions with managers making on-the-field decisions.  The methods that I employed took account of all of these issues using data from 1970-2011.

Interestingly, in comparing managers with GMs, the latter didn’t matter much prior to the 1990s.  Or, at least, very little difference existed between GMs so that one was just as valuable as another.  In the 1990s onward in the “Moneyball” era with much more attention paid to predictive characteristics of performance by some GMs rather than simply how players look in their uniform or the most obvious physical attributes, the general manager role exceeded that of managers in terms of explaining winning and losing.
      Top 10 Managers:
  1. Bobby Cox (Toronto, Atlanta)
  2. Danny Murtaugh (Pittsburgh)
  3. Walter Alston (Los Angeles)
  4. Earl Weaver (Baltimore)
  5. Danny Ozark (Philadelphia, San Francisco)
  6. Tony LaRussa (Chicago AL, Oakland, St. Louis)
  7. Davey Johnson (Cincinnati, Baltimore, New York NL, Los Angeles, Nationals)
  8. Sparky Anderson (Cincinnati, Detroit)
  9. Joe Torre (Atlanta, New York AL, Los Angeles)
  10. Jerry Manual (Chicago AL, New York NL)
Honorable Mention: Ron Gardenhire, Dick Williams, Terry Francona, Dusty Baker
With the recent retirement of Tony LaRussa, none of the Top 10 are still active.  Among the active managers, Gardenhire, Fancona, and Baker head the list.        

      Top 10 General Managers 
  1. Brian Cashman (New York AL)
  2. Bob Howsam (Cincinnati)
  3. John Schuerholz (Atlanta)
  4. Theo Epstein (Boston)
  5. Joe Burke (Kansas City)
  6. Joe Brown (Pittsburgh)
  7. Paul Owens (Philadelphia)
  8. Walt Jocketty (St. Louis)
  9. Al Campanis (Los Angeles)
  10. Haywood Sullivan (Boston)
Honorable Mention: Dan Duquette, Ron Schueler, Joe Gariagiola, Pat Gillick
A natural reaction to this list might be “Cashman has all the money to spend — no wonder he’s on top.  However, his individual contribution and ranking already takes account of the size of the Yankees’ market as well as taking over a team already enjoying a degree of success.  On the other hand, given that Theo Epstein is still active and his new team, the Cubs, are not faring so well, at least so far, his ranking would likely fall with expanded data.

Here is a link to a draft version of the article on which these results are based.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

20 best baseball quotes of all time

Photo: Early poster for baseball: "Cheer up - show your colors"

by Vance Garnett
Washington Times
May 1, 2013

Baseball is the most talked and written about of all sports. Below are 20 of my favorite quotes of all time. Some might be from before your time, but they are all gems.

1. "Hit 'em where they ain't." That was "Wee Willie" Keeler explaining the secret of his hitting prowess after setting a record in 1896, for his 45 game hitting streak, which stood until 1941, when the record was broken by "Joltin' Joe" DiMaggio.

2. "I should of stood in bed," complained boxing manager Joe Jacobs about the bitter cold weather for the opening game of the 1934 World Series between the Saint Louis Cardinals "Gashouse Gang" and the Detroit Tigers.

3. "I'd rather be lucky than good," said Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez about the "breaks of the game" on any given day.

4. "A ballplayer should quit when it starts to feel like all the baselines run uphill," said Babe Ruth as he neared the end of his career.

5. "Washington: First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League," wrote sports editor Charlie Dryden in the San Francisco Examiner, in 1909.

6. "You can't make chicken salad out of chicken feathers," lamented Joe Kuhel upon being fired as manager of the bottom-dwelling Washington Senators, in 1949.

7. "Young man, if that bat comes down, you're out of the game," yelled umpire Bill Klem when an angry batter tossed his bat 20 feet in the air upon being called out on strikes.

8. "I ought to break this trophy into 32 pieces," graciously said number 42, Jackie Robinson, upon receiving the award for outstanding play in 1947.

9. "The Hell with Babe Ruth!" shouted Japanese soldiers on Guadalcanal during WWII, in retort to the American G.Is insulting their Emperor.

10. "I had a better year," Babe Ruth told a reporter who asked why his salary was higher than that of the president of the United States.

11. "He would be the league's best pitcher if the plate was high and wide," wrote Bob Cooke, sportswriter for the Herald Tribune, about the wildness of a Dodgers pitcher.

12. Asked how he enjoyed rooming with Babe Ruth, "I room with his suitcase" answered Ping Bodie, whose real name was Franceto Sanguenitta Pizzola.

13. "A hotdog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz," said legendary film star Humphrey Bogart.

14. An anonymous taxi driver in Manhattan gets credit for this one. Being told by a passenger who hopped into his cab that the Dodgers had three men on base, he asked, "Which one?" This was because the
previous day (Aug. 15, 1926), two "Bums" had been called out when three players tried to occupy third base at the same time.

15. "The doctors x-rayed my head and found nothing." So said Dizzy Dean the day after being hit in the head by a pitched ball in the1934 World Series.

16. Asked to make a comment upon the death of his long-time teammate Joe DiMaggio, baseball's premier philosopher, Yogi Berra, said: "He was the best living player I ever saw."

17. "I always had to be right in any argument I was in," Ty Cobb said, "and I wanted to be first in everything."

18. "A bad call in baseball is one that goes against you," read a TV Guide article.

19. "I've never left a game before it ended," said Richard Nixon. "You never know when there could be a big turnaround in the game."

20. "Some day I'm going to have to stand before God," said Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, "and if He asks me why I didn't let that Robinson fellow play ball, I don't think saying 'because of the color of his skin' would be a good enough answer."

These, then, are some of my favorite baseball quotes. Watch for an upcoming column called, "20 More Favorite Baseball Quotes." Meanwhile, feel free to let me know some of yours favorites. Until then see you in the bleachers.