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TCB Daily Boil: Managerial Meddling Index

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Measuring How Many In-Game Moves Are Made By Managers

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Grantland carried a fun little article comparing MLB managers.  Ben Lindbergh creates a "Managerial Meddling Index." The idea is to evaluate how many in-game moves are made by managers.  Perhaps the index should be named the "Tony LaRussa Index," in honor of a former manager who has been called the "Mozart of Overmanagers..."  But, in reality, there is no value judgement in the index for good and bad moves.  It's just a way to separate activist managers from those who show more restraint.

The in-game actions which are measured:

changing the lineup; calling for an intentional walk, a pitchout, or a hit-and-run attempt; ordering a sacrifice bunt attempt by a position player (sac bunts by pitchers are par for the course); pinch hitting for a position player; pinch running; inserting defensive subs; challenging a call that’s reviewable by replay; and using a pitcher to face a single batter

Unlike many of the managerial comparisons I have read, this one is fairly well done in a statistical sense.  Adjustment is made for AL and NL managers facing different kinds of decisions based on whether the pitcher bats.  And z scores are used to statistically standardize the comparisons.

Since this is TCB, we want to know what Bo knows.  And, taking all of the categories into account, Bo Porter is just about average.  Well, just a tick above average in activism; zero is average, and Bo is +0.1.  That's just above Joe Girardi and Mike Matheny, who are exactly average (0).  Bo is right there with Mike Sciosia (+0.2).   For comparison, John Gibbons (Jays), Clint Hurdle (Pirates), and Rick Renteria (Cubs) are the most activist trio (+7, +6.4, +5.4, respectively).  Nats' manager Matt Williams is, by far, the most passive manager (at least in terms of making moves) with -6.3.

The index in the article is interactive, which means that you can exclude certain categories and it will retabulate the managers' standings.  For example, sac bunts are probably the least sabermetric manageral action (TCB's Joe in Birmingham will like this), and if you exclude sac bunts, Bo Porter is well above average with a +1.2.  That's because Porter is among the managers least likely to call for a sac bunt.

The interesting thing is that Porter is relatively restrained in his managerial actions, except in four categories.  He is below average in making all types of moves except for pitch outs (+1.4), hit and runs (+1.2), using a reliever for one at bat (+0.9), and intentional walks (+0.6).  I know a few TCB commenters are frustrated by Porter's use of 1-out relievers (not me, though), but maybe they can be assuaged by the number of managers who are more active in relying upon 1 out relievers (Terry Collins leads the way with +2.2).

The article reasonably points out that the manager's activity in particular categories is influenced by the type of team he is given.  For example, Matt Williams may seem very inactive, but the Nationals are probably one of the deeper, more well balanced teams.  And that may mean  the manager's intervention is required less.  And certainly categories like "defensive substitutions" and "one out pitchers" are affected by each team's composition.