Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bobby Valentine and the Myth of Managerial Experience Revisited

About a month ago, I wrote a column called "The Myth of Managerial Experience" in which I outlined two points. 1 ) Having managed before does not necessarily make someone a good manager, and 2) managers have very little impact statistically over the course of a season. Both points will be proved true over the next few years by the marriage of Bobby Valentine and the Boston Red Sox.

Bobby Valentine has a wealth of experience, and almost no success to show for it. He has managed 15 seasons and does not have a division title to show for it. He did muster an NL Pennant in 2000 with the Mets after a Wild Card berth. I think it's safe to say that Boston will have higher expectations than he's used to.

In “Baseball Between the Numbers” Baseball Prospectus writers tried to analyze the amount of runs that managers’ decisions have cost or gained their team over the past 40 years. While the book is from 2005 and the metrics need to be taken with a grain of salt, Bobby Valentine cost his team more runs than all but two managers over the past 40 years according to their data. He appears towards the top of each of their “Worst Manager by ___” tables. They also cite him by name as an example of how sometimes a manager can be so bad that it costs the team free agent signings. There's no doubt players will avoid cities where they do not respect the leadership. In my opinion, this is especially possible with Valentine given his strong personality and his terrible work on Baseball Tonight for all the world to see…

All that being said, Boston has a ton of money and a great roster already in place, so I think they are going to be fine in spite of this hiring. Let's hope that if Boston does have success, intelligent baseball folks attribute it to their wealth of resources and good business model rather than Valentine's leadership. Keep in mind that the Red Sox were on pace to win close to 100 games last year before their pitching injuries and historic collapse. Boston will be successful in spite of Valentine rather than because of him.

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