• THT Jaffe’s Book Excerpt: “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers” — Billy Martin

    Posted by on November 17th, 2009 · Comments (8)

    Chris Jaffe, of The Hardball Times, has an article up today that should interest you. It’s an excerpt from his book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers.” This excerpt is about former Yankee manager Billy Martin. Click here to check it out.

    Comments on THT Jaffe’s Book Excerpt: “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers” — Billy Martin

    1. MJ
      November 17th, 2009 | 11:10 am

      I’m only sorry that I’m too young to truly remember Billy Martin’s managerial career. I remember being 8 or 9 years old and hearing that Billy Martin had bee fired as Yankee manager again (and thinking to myself, “wait, he’s managed here before?!”) but I really never got to see the little madman in action. Sadly, the only thing I truly remember about him was when he died around Christmas when I was in high school.

    2. GDH
      November 17th, 2009 | 11:55 am

      One of the great things about Billy was his close connection with the “namesake” of this blog – the Scooter. I don’t remember specifics, but Scooter always had something to say about Billy.

      Billy was one crazy SOB, but man were his teams fun to watch. I’ll never forget the time he called that pine tar bat out on George Brett. Craziest thing I’ve ever seen – who knows how he sold that to the umpires. Thought Brett would rip his scrawny head straight off. But thinking about it, it goes right along with the thrust of this article. The guy was just killing us – he had to find a way to get inside of Brett’s head.

      Whatever was said about Billy, he loved the Yankees. I started watching the team before that, in the late sixties, and believe me before Billy and George, we suuuuucked. Billy and George, in their incredibly, incredibly warped way, together made our team great again.

    3. GDH
      November 17th, 2009 | 11:58 am

      Come to think of it, I wonder if the pine tar stunt worked – what were Brett’s numbers vs Yankees pre pine tar vs. post pine tar? I’m not a stat guy but I’m curious if anyone could get the data.

    4. November 17th, 2009 | 12:12 pm
    5. 77yankees
      November 17th, 2009 | 7:55 pm

      If you peeled away the layers, and all the drama that followed with Billy, you’d see he was one of the best managers of all time. He took down and out teams in Minnesota, Detroit, Texas, and Oakland, and turned them into winning ballclubs. And he took those Yankee teams in the mid-70s to the next level.

      Someone like Billy could never exist today, especially with how he handled pitchers. He didn’t baby them, and since he had short shelf lives in all his managerial stints, he didn’t care about tomorrow. Certainly a lot of pitchers he had developed arm problems, but they also had their best seasons under Billy, especially the starters he had in Oakland.

      Case in point, a huge part of why Ron Guidry has a plaque and number 49 retired in Monument Park is due to Billy. While Gid was very good with others at the helm, he was off the charts with Billy in the dugout:

      Guidry’s W-L record with all other managers: 86-66
      Guidry’s W-L record with Billy as manager: 84-25

    6. Evan3457
      November 18th, 2009 | 3:01 am

      The Pine Tar Game was the last game played between the Yankees and Royals in 1983, the Home Run that got tossed out, and then reinstated was his last plate appearance against the Yankees that season.

      So, all that need be done is to add up Brett’s seasonal splits vs. the Yanks from 1974 through 1983 (the “Before”) and then again from 1984 until his retirement following the 1993 season (the “After”). Conveniently, that makes 10 years on either side, and very close in the number of games and at bats on either side. Anyway, here are the numbers:

      94 games, 371 AB, 52 R, 116 H, 14 2B, 11 3B, 11 HR, 61 RBI, 8 SB, 7 CS, 27 BB, 25 K, 185 TB, 5 GIDP, 0 HBP, 2 SH, 5 SF

      BAVG: .313; OBA: .355; SLG: .499; OPS: 853

      99 games, 365 AB, 64 R, 109 H, 20 2B, 4 3B, 18 HR, 52 RBI, 6 SB, 0 CS, 45 BB, 46 K, 191 TB, 8 GIDP, 2 HBP, 0 SH, 5 SF

      BAVG: .299; OBA: .375; SLG: .523; OPS: 898

      As you would expect from a Hall of Fame level hitter, there’s no obvious ‘bright line” here. It’s pretty much a normal aging pattern: more walks, more K’s, fewer steals, better SB %, more GIDP, no SH, lower BAVG, more power. Fewer RBI, but then, the Royals teams of the last part of Brett’s career slowly slid downhill from their championship of 1985.

      Just from the raw numbers, it doesn’t appear to me that Billy’s gambit changed the way Brett hit against the Yanks at all. In fact, Brett’s best HR season vs. the Yanks was the 5 he got off them in 1988 — Billy’s last year at the helm.

    7. Evan3457
      November 18th, 2009 | 3:03 am

      Oh, a much lower rate of triples in the “After”, too. Just as you’d expect as a player ages and loses speed.

    8. Tresh Fan
      November 18th, 2009 | 8:54 am

      I remember when Martin first became a manager. He replaced a non-entity named Calvin Coolidge Ermer in Minnesota after 1968 wnen the Twins fell below .500 after nearly winning the pennant the year before. Under Martin the Twins rallied to reel off 97 wins and a division title. The ALCS nearrly went to Minnesota as well. Both of the first two games went extra innings, but with a little luck the Twins might have won one or even both. They lost Game 1 on a couple of infield hits with a sac bunt and ia ground out in between—oh btw the Twins 3B was Harmon Killebrew—and with the score 0-0 in Game 2 with a runner on 3rd and 2 outs Martin called on Ron Perranoski, who had thrown nearly 4 innings in relief the day before and who promptly gave up the game winning hit. Then in Game 3 Martin inexplicably started journeyman Bob Miller who got shelled and, just like that, the Twins were swept.
      Martin got fired. The reason given was his fisticuffs with pitcher Dave Boswell—rather reminiscent of his days with the Yankees in the ’50’s and the reason why the Yankees had to unload him and the reason many baseball talking heads at the time said Martin would never manage again. But I wondered if his handling of his pitching staff in the ALCS had something to do with it as well.

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