How much of a difference will Bryan Price make versus what Dusty Baker would be able to do?
Well, for starters, you could have had Roseanne Barr manage the 2014 Reds and the outcome likely wouldÃ‚Â have been the same. The point being, we haven’t had a chance to see what Price can do at the helm with a healthy roster. We’re hoping to find out in 2015.
A question: How much and in what aspects can a new manager influence a team’s performance on the field?
In terms of win-loss record, according to the analysis of Neil Paine at fivethirtyeight.com,Ã‚Â the average manager’s influence is somewhere inside the range of two more wins and two more losses. However, according to sabermetrician Chris Jaffe, who recently penned a book entitled “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers: A History and Analysis of Performance in the Major Leagues,” a good manager can add 3-5 wins in a season while a poor manager can cost a team that same amount.
To draw that conclusion, Jaffe inspected the performance of teams versus the expected performance of those teams in a given season. “There’s a feeling that part of it is accounted for by chemistry, which is really hard to quantify,” he said. Jaffe adds that “there are a lot of decisions to be made, but ultimately, the job is to be leaders of men.”
Chemistry, Decision Making and The Players
We can all agree Sparky Anderson was one of the greatest managers in baseball history. He won three World Series and the sixth-most games of all-time. If you were lucky enough to speak with Sparky about managing, he would have insistedÃ‚Â that “you win because of the players.” With that contention, would it have mattered if it was Dusty Baker or Bryan Price or the ghost of John McGraw managing CincinnatiÃ‚Â in 2012? Did the injury to Johnny Cueto and the inspired play of the San Francisco Giants make the difference, regardless of which two men were filling out the lineup cards?
Was it that the Reds weren’t mentally prepared to handle the series falling apart on them? Or would a few different decisions have made the difference between marching on or ending the season in shame? Or was it simply that the Giants had a better roster than the Reds?
Cincinnati’s mental state and team chemistry will be difficult to define, especially by people like us who never spent a second in the clubhouse that season. In-game decisions will always be praised when they work and second-guessed when they fail. As for the players, well, the Giants went on to beat St. Louis in the NLCS and then sweep Detroit in the World Series. Would the Reds have been able to pull that off?
A Change Was Necessary
After the way the 2012 and 2013 seasons ended, we all knew it was time for Dusty Baker to move on. The team’s performance down the stretch in 2013 was particularly disheartening and lackluster, and it begs the question: If it had been Price steering that ship, would things have been different?
Further: Is Bryan Price a better man for the job than Baker moving forward? We obviously don’t have a significant sample size to determine the answer to that. And nobody’s arguing with the decision, especially since Price’s value with the pitching staff has been tremendous, and had the Reds not offered him the manager’s job, he likely would have bolted for another organization.
Back to Dusty. Was Baker simply an average manager (+/- 2 wins) or was he in that “cost your team 3-5 wins” category like a lot of Cicninnati fans believed him to be? Or was he given a flawed roster, as he believed it to be?
Factor in: Other than that final stretch of 2013, you’d have to say the Reds had pretty good chemistry over Baker’s tenure–after all, they won two division titles. Baker’s always been known as a player’s manager. And lastly, according to Paine, in-game decisions generally don’t make much difference over the long haul.
Dusty Baker or Bryan Price: Does it matter?