With the postseason awards just around the corner and discussions about Manager of the Year springing up, I began thinking about how we judge managers. There is so much quantitative data out there allowing us to objectively evaluate players, yet managers are still evaluated based on the “eye test.”
The fact is, managers are often overpaid, underpaid, overvalued, or undervalued because there is not a concrete way to properly evaluate their contributions to the bottom line (in baseball’s case this would be wins and losses). Generally speaking, businesses will make personnel decisions based on results. These results will be both quantitative and qualitative. In many cases specific metrics are used to evaluate contributions. In baseball, this is done with managers to a certain extent, but much of the information is flawed.
For example, if Joe Girardi was fired in the off-season and the Yankees replaced him with me, I’m confident that Yankees team would still finish over .500 and that team might still make the play-offs. Do I get credit for that? I managed the team, and regardless of my inexperience or my naive baseball strategies that I would surely employ, the team finished above .500. Forget the fact that this team is built up of multiple-million dollar star athletes who know how to win. Yet, in our current system I would get credit for their on-field results.
It’s clear that the traditional methods for a manager’s evaluation don’t account for things beyond the manager’s control (i.e. Payroll, free agent signings, trades, inherited players, etc). Currently, there is no better way to rank managers than on-field accomplishments, but that doesn’t mean there can never be new evaluative methods.
I don’t have those methods yet, but over the course of the off-season I’ll explore new ways to judge managers. Feel free to provide your input as well.