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MoY Macho
2003-11-16 03:12
by Mike Carminati

Idle old man,
That still would manage those authorities
That he hath given away!

—William "Author" Shakespeare, King Lear

Managing is getting paid for home runs someone else runs.

— Casey Stengel, inventor of Stengelese

I gave the baseball writers a hard time for the Rookie of the Year results, but I have to agree with their choices for Manger of the Year wholeheartedly (or MoY to save me typing). Tony Pena took a moribund franchise that had divested itself of all its veteran starting pitchers and made it a competitive, if ultimately unsuccessful, team. Jack Mckeon took a team that was 16-22 in fourth place in a five-team division (if you count the Mets as a major-league team) and won the whole shebang.

The only argument some had against McKeon was that Dusty Baker took a team, the Cubs, that had been almost 30 games under .500 the previous year and won his division in a tough three-team race. Joe Morgan in a recent chat session opined that Baker was the best candidate and mentioned Felipe Alou and Bobby Cox but failed to mention McKeon. Baker ended up a distant second in the NL vote.

That got me to thinking, which is a rare event. Evaluating managers is a quite subjective and highly mercurial task. Look at Grady Little. He ended up fourth in the AL vote, directly ahead of the Yankees' Joe Torre, but is out of a job. (By the way, how did Lou Piniella end up with four second-place votes with a team that logged a 63-99 record? It's true that the D Rays improved by 8 games in 2003 and had their best year since 2000, but if the team were piloted by Larry Rothschild or Hal McRae, they would not have garnered a single MoY vote.)

Is there an empirical means to select MoY? Perhaps the man whose team has the best winning percentage turnaround should get the award or at least there should be a strong correlation between winning the award and improving one's team winning percentage.

So I took a look at the past winners (I opted for the BBWAA winners even though that has only recently supplanted the TSN's MoY award because 1) it is the award of choice today and 2) it is conveniently located in the database from whence I was doing the research). Here's a list of the winners, the league's best team improvement in winning percentage over the previous season minus the manager's winning percentage improvement (Best - Mgr PCT), what that translates into as far as wins in a season (Dif in W), the manger's winning percentage improvement over the previous year (Mgr Diff), and what that translates into as far as wins in a season (Mgr Diff in W) [based on a 162-game season].

YearLgNameBest - Mgr PCTDiff in WMgr DiffMgr Diff in W
1983NLTom Lasorda.06511.0152
1983ALTony LaRussa.0061.07412
1984NLJim Frey.0000.15826
1984ALSparky Anderson.0122.07412
1985ALBobby Cox.0020.06611
1985NLWhitey Herzog.0163.10517
1986NLHal Lanier.0498.08013
1986ALJohn McNamara.06210.09015
1987NLBuck Rodgers.0223.07713
1987ALSparky Anderson.0193.06811
1988NLTom Lasorda.0041.13021
1988ALTony LaRussa.0000.14223
1989NLDon Zimmer.0000.09916
1989ALFrank Robinson.0000.20233
1990ALJeff Torborg.0000.15225
1990NLJim Leyland.0000.13021
1991NLBobby Cox.0000.17929
1991ALTom Kelly.0000.13021
1992NLJim Leyland.11118-.012-2
1992ALTony LaRussa.06210.07412
1993NLDusty Baker.0000.19131
1993ALGene Lamont.06210.0498
1994ALBuck Showalter.0396.07612
1994NLFelipe Alou.05910.06911
1995NLDon Baylor.0030.08213
1995ALLou Piniella.0224.10717
1996NLBruce Bochy.0346.07612
1996ALJoe Torre.07312.0193
1996ALJohnny Oates.0549.0386
1997ALDavey Johnson.09916.06210
1997NLDusty Baker.0000.13622
1998ALJoe Torre.0000.11118
1998NLLarry Dierker.0254.11118
1999NLJack McKeon.10217.11418
1999ALJimy Williams.06811.0122
2000NLDusty Baker.0539.06811
2000ALJerry Manuel.0000.12120
2001NLLarry Bowa.0122.13021
2001ALLou Piniella.0000.15425
2002ALMike Scioscia.0000.14824
2002NLTony LaRussa.06811.0254
2003NLJack Mckeon.07813.0528
2003ALTony Pena.0000.12921

On average, the MoY improved his team by 15 games over the previous season. However, the average MoY was five games behind the best turnaround. The only MoY who failed to improve his team record over the previous season's was Jim Leyland, whose Pirates won the division in 1992 even though they won two fewer games than in '91. Leyland's Bucs had lost Bobby Bonilla and 20-game winner John Smiley to free agency though he retained Barry Bonds' services for one final MVP season in Pittsburgh. The team did fall apart the next season after Bonds left.

Let's say that the award had always been given to the manager who improved his team by the largest margin. Here's who the winners would have been (disregarding those who managed for a short period):

YrNameLgPCTWPCTMgr DiffTeam
1983Doug RaderAL.472.395.077Texas
1983Russ NixonNL.457.377.080Cincinnati
1984Chuck CottierAL.556.370.185Seattle
1984Jim FreyNL.596.438.158Chi. Cubs
1985 Billy MartinAL.628.537.091NY Yankees
1985Pete RoseNL.549.432.117Cincinnati
1986Tom TrebelhornAL.667.441.226Milwaukee
1986Roger CraigNL.512.383.130San Francisco
1987John WathanAL.583.469.114Kansas City
1987Jim LeylandNL.494.395.099Pittsburgh
1988Tony LaRussaAL.642.500.142Oak
1988Jack McKeonNL.583.401.181San Diego
1989Frank RobinsonAL.537.335.202Baltimore
1989Don ZimmerNL.574.475.099Chi. Cubs
1990Jeff TorborgAL.580.429.152Chi. White Sox
1990Jim LeylandNL.586.457.130Pittsburgh
1991Cito GastonAL.667.531.136Toronto
1991Bobby CoxNL.580.401.179Atlanta
1992Johnny OatesAL.549.414.136Baltimore
1992Felipe AlouNL.560.441.119Montreal
1993Lou PiniellaAL.506.395.111Seattle
1993Dusty BakerNL.636.444.191San Francisco
1994Mike HargroveAL.584.469.115Cleveland
1994Davey JohnsonNL.574.451.123Cincinnati
1995Marcel LachemannAL.538.409.129California
1995Bruce BochyNL.486.402.084San Diego
1996Tom KellyAL.481.389.093Minnesota
1996Tony LaRussaNL.543.434.110St. Louis
1997Buddy BellAL.488.327.160Detroit
1997Dusty BakerNL.556.420.136San Francisco
1998Joe TorreAL.704.593.111Ny Yankees
1998Bruce BochyNL.605.469.136San Diego
1999 Art HoweAL.537.457.080Oakland
1999Buck ShowalterNL.617.401.216Arizona
2000Jerry ManuelAL.586.466.121Chi. White Sox
2000Tony LaRussaNL.586.466.121St. Louis
2001Lou PiniellaAL.716.562.154Seattle
2001Don BaylorNL.543.401.142Chi. Cubs
2002Mike SciosciaAL.611.463.148Anaheim
2002Frank RobinsonNL.512.420.093Montreal
2003Tony PenaAL.512.383.129Kansas City
2003Dusty BakerNL.543.414.129Chicago Cubs

Both lists are interesting, but I think the second one does avoid some of the sentimental choices. Felipe Alou gets the nod over Jim Leyland in 1992 by the second list, by the way.

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