The Fourteen (Inflation) Commandments for Managers

Posted: May 16, 2014 in In-game strategy, Managers

Note: These are rules of thumb which apply 90-99% of the time (or so). Some of them have a few or even many exceptions and nuances to consider. I do believe, however, that if every manager followed these religiously, even without employing any exceptions or considering any of the nuances, that he would be much better off than the status quo. There are also many other suggestions, commandments, and considerations that I would use, that are not included in this list.

1)      Though shalt never use individual batter/pitcher matchups, recent batter or pitcher stats, or even seasonal batter or pitcher stats. Ever. The only thing that this organization uses are projections based on long-term performance. You will use those constantly.

2)      Thou shalt never, ever use batting average again. wOBA is your new BA. Learn how to construct it and learn what it means.

3)      Thou shalt be given and thou shalt use the following batter/pitcher matchups every game: Each batter’s projection versus each pitcher. They include platoon considerations. Those numbers will be used for all your personnel decisions. They are your new “index cards.”

4)      Thou shalt never issue another IBB again, other than obvious late and close-game situations.

5)      Thou shalt instruct your batters whether to sacrifice bunt or not, in all sacrifice situations, based on a “commit line.” If the defense plays in front of that line, thy batters will hit away. If they play behind the line, thy batters will bunt. If they are at the commit line, they may do as they please. Each batter will have his own commit line against each pitcher. Some batters will never bunt.

6)      Thou shalt never sacrifice with runners at first and third, even with a pitcher at bat. You may squeeze if you want. With 1 out and a runner on 1st only your worst hitting pitchers will bunt.

7)      Thou shalt keep thy starter in or remove him based on two things and two things only: One, his pitch count, and two, the number of times he has faced the order. Remember that ALL pitchers lose 1/3 of a run in ERA each time through the order, regardless of how they are pitching thus far.

8)      Thou shalt remove thy starter for a pinch hitter in a high leverage situation if he is facing the order for the 3rd time or more, regardless of how he is pitching.

9)      Speaking of leverage, thou shalt be given a leverage chart with score, inning, runners, and outs. Use it!

10)   Thou shalt, if at all possible, use thy best pitchers in high leverage situations and thy worst pitchers in low leverage situations, regardless of the score or inning.  Remember that “best” and “worst” are based on your new “index cards” (batter v. pitcher projections) or your chart which contains each pitcher’s generic projection. It is never based on how they did yesterday, last week, or even the entire season. Thou sometimes may use “specialty” pitchers, such as when a GDP or a K are at a premium.

11)   Thou shalt be given a chart for every base runner and several of the most common inning, out, and score situations. There will be a number next to each player’s name for each situation. If the pitcher’s time home plus the catcher’s pop time are less than that number, thy runner will not steal. If it is greater, thy runner may steal. No runner shall steal second base with a lefty pitcher on the mound.

12)   Thou shalt not let thy heart be troubled by the outcome of your decisions. No one who works for this team will ever question your decision based on the outcome. Each decision you make is either right, wrong, or a toss-up, before we know, and regardless of, the outcome.

13)   Thou shalt be held responsible for your decisions, also regardless of the outcome. If your decisions are contrary to what we believe as an organization, we would like to hear your explanation and we will discuss it with you. However, you are expected to make the right decisions at all times, based on the beliefs and philosophies of the organization. We don’t care what the fans or the media think.  We will take care of that. We will all make sure that our players are on the same page as we are.

14)   Finally, thou shalt know that we respect and admire your leadership and motivational skills. That is one of the reasons we hired you. However, if you are not on board with our decision-making processes and willing to employ them at all times, please find yourself another team to manage.

  1. Ron Stevens says:

    Remember, these are Comandments,not suggestions!

  2. I saw these on Twitter and was thinking you should write them all up! I was tempted to embed your tweets in a post on my blog, but for some reason the auto-embedding wasn’t working, I was just seeing a URL in the preview.

    Off the top of your head, how much difference would you think following these guidelines would make for an average team? And how close (or far) from these commandments do you think the best (or worst) managers are?

    • MGL says:

      Just a guess, but I would say that the average manager would gain 1-3 wins per season. I don’t think any managers are close to using these. There are also many more things that I didn’t get into, like lineup construction, pinch hitters and runners, etc.

  3. Also, regarding the prohibition of stealing against LHP, I recall a study in The Book about effective SB success rates for LHP compared to RHP which found about an 8% difference (somewhat counter-intuitively, the success rate on SB alone actually was higher versus LHP, although attempts were way down; but after accounting for pickoffs, balks, etc., success was 8% worse against LHP). Is that the point here that you think it simply never makes sense? Naively it still seems that a truly great base stealer (e.g. a Raines or Davey Lopes type) might be able to succeed often enough against a lefty, at least one who is not that good at holding runners on, to make it worthwhile. But perhaps not.

    It’s certainly easier to make an ironclad commandment to follow 99% of the time than to carve out the 1% or less when an exception might make sense. Another case where it wasn’t obvious to me that LHP would make so much difference would be on steals of 3rd. Would you say these are rare enough not to matter, just a bad idea in general, or does the LHP have an advantage in stopping steals of 3rd also?

    • MGL says:

      Lefties are probably easier to steal third against, so the commandment only applies to steals of second. Yes, I am sure there are some lefties against whom you can steal and some runners who have a knack for stealing against lefties, but you basically have to guess that the pitcher is coming home, which leads to a lot of pickoffs and caught stealings where the pitcher goes to first rather than home.

      I don’t know if the numbers have changes in the last few years, but if you just look at the numbers that you present, you can see that players should not, in general, be stealing against lefty pitchers.

      By the way, managers do not use the strategy of bringing in a lefty pitcher in order to prevent a runner from stealing second often enough.

  4. Tim says:

    Love it! The list is remarkably succinct as well. I have same question as Goeff in #1. I’m guessing that sticking to these commandments might be worth 4-5 games a year to a “bad” manager and maybe 1 or 2 to a “good” manager. Nothing to sneeze at for sure.

    • MGL says:

      Those are HUGE numbers, the equivalent of replacing an average player with a star player and obviously worth from 7 to 35 million dollars or so.

      • Tim says:

        Seeing your reply to Geoff, we are not that far off. And they are HUGE numbers. Look at the AL right now! An extra 2 wins might be a really big deal this year.

  5. Deuteronomy 25:11-12 says:

    15. If during a bench-clearing brawl, one of your players protects another by grabbing his opponent’s genitals, thou shalt cut off his hand. Show him no pity.

    • MGL says:

      LOL. I would prefer, “If there is bench clearing brawl, thy players who leave the bullpen or dugout shall be suspended for the rest of the season.”

      Biggest display of childish behavior in sports is the bench clearing brawl. I love the players in the back who just sort of meander their way onto the field, only because they have to.

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