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Baseball Can Be a Hard Game to Manage

So many people have watched baseball over the years. Most think they can manage, and I think many could, if they listen to their coaching staffs. In the 21st century a manager is supposed to be a “people person”. He has to make sure he connects with his players and then perform a few meaningful functions throughout the game. Unless you’re Phillies rookie manager, Gabe Kapler. He’s trying to re-invent the game and so far, it’s been an abject failure.

Analytics have their place in baseball. There’s a lot to analyze but that doesn’t mean you have to act on every situation that seems favorable. Sometimes common sense has to come into play.

We’ve all seen the “shifts” that teams do throughout a game. There’s a lot of them and they’re not just for certain batters, it’s much broader than that. I’ve yet to get an answer to this question. Do you need to have a shift if you have the right players at the right positions in the infield? I think back to the 1999 New York Mets, that infield only made 33 errors all season long. It was the second fewest since 1900. Do you need to shift then? Rey Ordonez and Robin Ventura stole hits? I can’t find an analytic that gives me that answer. If a manager had that on a side-by-side it would help.

The Phillies used 21 pitchers for the first 28 innings of a season, an MLB record of futility. Kapler brought in a pitcher cold and it brought a warning notice by the league. Taxing the bullpen is the worst thing a team can do. I’ve seen that happen with Terry Collins and the Mets and it’s a disaster.

This kind of behavior might “save” a starting pitcher but it also devalues them over time. It will also create eventual friction between the pitching staff and the coaching staff.

Kapler may survive the season and turn out to be a successful manager. My point here is when you re-invent the wheel you have to be sure. Not just in your beliefs but your staff has to be 100% on board. We don’t know if the Phillies staff is, but I suspect we’ll find out soon.

When analyzing data, a bigger sample size is the key to success. How big was the sample size on some of his decisions?

When the Mets hired Davey Johnson, he had a lot of computer reports about righty/left matchups and more. It was the early 80’s and he was definitely unconventional. He had early success. After losing the season opener the Mets won six-straight. That’s the easiest way to get the media off a manager’s back. Johnson ended up finishing second with 90 wins in his first season. Let’s all take a breath and see what transpires with all the new managers in 2018.

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