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Buddy, Can You Spare a Lousy Manager?
2005-05-31 20:24
by Mike Carminati

Today, in typical Royal fashion, Kansas City aimed extremely low. At least they hit the mark though.

Buddy Bell became the new manager of the Royals, and his team is currently leading the Yankees, 5-3, in the ninth. Of course, winning is not something that has come easily to Bell's teams.

Bell's Tigers (1996-98) amassed a 184-277 record for a .399 winning percentage. He then shepherded the Rockies (2000-2002) through a 161-185 record (.465) in two plus seasons. In Bell's four full and two partial seasons as a major-league manager, only one season did his team have a winning record, 82-80 (.506) in his first season in Colorado.

Of all the men who have managed in at least six seasons, Bell has one of the worst winning percentages. The only recent manager who was worse was Tony Muser, who managed you know where:

Preston Gomez19691980346529.395
Jimmie Wilson19341944493735.401
Jack Chapman18761892351502.411
Cookie Lavagetto19571961271384.414
Deacon McGuire18981911210287.423
John Clapp18721883174237.423
Tony Muser19972002317431.424
Harry Craft19571964360485.426
Buddy Bell19962002345462.428
Dan Howley19271932397524.431
Rene Lachemann19812002428560.433
Del Crandall19721984364469.437
Patsy Donovan18971911684879.438
Billy Barnie18831898632810.438
Tom Loftus18841903454580.439
Billy Gardner19811987330417.442
Frank Lucchesi19701987316399.442
Hugh Duffy19011922535671.444
Darrell Johnson19741982472590.444
Bob Ferguson18711887417516.447

OK, but you may say that a lot of that is a function of the team, not necessarily the manager. Well, Bell is also among the worst managers all time in the difference between his teams' winning percentage and their expected winning percentages (min. 6 seasons, based on teams' full season totals):

NameFirstLastWLPCTTeam WTeam LTeam PCTRRAExp PCTDiff
Bobby Bragan19561966443478.481548561.49448384647.518.024
Arthur Irwin18891899416427.493510594.46268787102.485.023
Jimmie Wilson19341944493735.401567807.41359516852.436.023
Preston Gomez19691980346529.395443680.39440544880.416.021
Johnny Keane19611966398350.532497464.51741613828.538.021
Tony Muser19972002317431.424407562.42046625319.440.020
Buddy Bell19962002345462.428425547.43749585457.456.019
John Morrill18821889348334.510455446.50551424891.523.018
Ned Hanlon1889190713131164.53013751266.5211465613477.538.018
Mel Ott19421948464530.467505568.47148054936.488.017
Hugh Duffy19011922535671.444535671.44448905346.459.016
Branch Rickey19131925597664.473713805.47066966917.485.015
Jim Riggleman19921999486598.448564670.45755055852.472.015
Gus Schmelz18841897624703.470740824.47391479422.486.013
Doug Rader19831991388417.482532600.47045684740.483.013
Sam Mele19611967524436.546683608.52958245320.541.012
Bob Scheffing19571963418427.495473474.49943094201.512.012
Dallas Green19791996454478.487562611.47951815288.491.012
Bill Watkins18841899452444.504607684.47071397433.482.011
Jimy Williams19862004910790.5351052891.54196328583.553.011

Of course, this isn't all ironclad. The Royals get kudos for 1) hiring a manager with major-league experience for the first time in almost two decades and 2) not re-hiring Tony Muser. Besides Bell was the bench coach for the Indians, they of the 25-25 record. How appropriate. The Royals are truly courting mediocrity.

2005-06-01 06:14:50
1.   Xeifrank
A thread on lousy managers and no mention of Jim Tracy?



2005-06-01 06:45:38
2.   Mike Carminati
That's a joke, right? Even in a sports city that can't support a pro football team and indiscriminately renames one of its baseball clubs every few years, you must know that Tracy has never had a losing record and just won the division last year.
2005-06-01 06:59:36
3.   PhillyJ
One thing we are certain of, Buddy does not put much stock in his career managing numbers - perhaps he can get them on a pace not to exceed the 62 Mets...

Is there any chance he would want to acquire a Third Baseman that shares the same DNA?

2005-06-01 08:12:43
4.   Mike Carminati
We can only hope.
2005-06-01 08:57:37
5.   Xeifrank
Jim Tracy has terrible managerial skills. Jim Tracy continues to use outdated and sabermetrically proven wrong in game strategies. He lowers the Dodgers win expectancy in almost every game, and often more than once per game. Take a look at his game mismanagement in tuesday nights loss against the Cubbies.



2005-06-01 09:52:10
6.   Xeifrank
Here is an example of his idiocy.

Of course, what he does with what he has can be questioned at times, too. After Jayson Werth drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth, Tracy ordered No. 3 hitter J.D. Drew to try to bunt Werth over. Drew tried twice and failed, then had to swing away. Then, after Antonio Perez was hit by a pitch to begin the bottom of the 10th, Tracy had Hee-Seop Choi - mired in an 0-for-22 slump but a power hitter nonetheless - to bunt Perez into scoring position for Rose and Saenz.

"You have to get to Olmedo Saenz," Tracy said. "I'm not going home without the opportunity to get him to the plate. If you let Choi swing the bat, and he hits a (double play) groundball, it wipes out the inning, and instead of having Olmedo Saenz up there with a runner in scoring position, he has to hit for Mike Rose with two outs and nobody on."

2005-06-01 11:15:22
7.   steffens
Xeifrank, please provide further explanation. What's wrong with the bunt in those situations, when the Dodgers needed just 1 run?
2005-06-01 13:53:35
8.   Xeifrank
First off, there is statistical proof (Win Expectancy Finder) that a bunt in that situation lowers your win expectancy. Secondly, you are asking people to bunt who have a tendancy to get on base. Both Drew and Choi walk alot. Not only that, but both of them have very good power and an extra base hit could very easily win the game. Choi was asked to bunt with a 2-0 count, right after the pitcher had just clunked a batter in the head. Choi probably would've drawn a walk, then you'd have the tying run at second base but with no outs. Then Tracy goes on to explain his rationale for the Choi bunt with not wanting to have Choi hit into a double play. And also that he wanted to give Saenz a chance to bat with a runner in scoring position, yet with one out he had a very weak hitting catcher (automatic out) coming to the plate. Tracy has made a terrible habit out of doing these sorts of things. He will bring in one of his worst pitchers to pitch the most important stretch of a game and will only bring Gagne in in a save situation or a tied game in the top of the 9th. Sure, there are other managers who may be just as bad, but I don't follow those teams as closely, so I can only speak for Jim Tracy.



2005-06-02 12:14:14
9.   Mike Carminati

OK, first the proof that this is a bad move in general is shaky. The difference between a game tied in the bottom of the ninth with a man at first and no outs to a man on second with one out is negligible (.714 to .703). Data for the 10th is unavailable from Win Expectancy Finder, but plugging in for the ninth with a run differential of -1 and the same scenarios as before gives a slightly larger edge to not bunting (.315 to .278). However, the issue comes down to the players involved, their bunting ability, their tendency to hit into a double play, the players hitting behind them, etc. Maybe he was afraid of Choi's 0-for. I wouldn't have done it myself, but there is far from solid sabermetric proof that it's inherently a bad move.

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