This year's Managers of the Year are about as entertaining a study in contrasts as far as opposite ways statheads can get a wee bit too worked up as you could come up with.
To be fair, the Senior Circuit's slate made for a exceptionally tough group to pick from, as voters struggled between choosing which manager of the three different late-season upset comeback teams deserved the most credit, while also having to address Arizona's perhaps even more surprising triumph over the heavily favored Dodgers and Padres in the NL West. As a result, Melvin, the Phillies'
Perhaps interestingly, two of the quartet's victims -- the Pads' rookie manager
If Melvin's Snakes were something of a surprise to the analysis community, Wedge wasn't to most in the analysis community. Speaking as somebody who picked the two winning managers' teams to win their respective league's pennants before the season, only to see both teams come up short in the LCS round of the playoffs, I guess you might imagine that I'm the picture of smug sabermetric know-it-all-ism, but instead, I think my colleagues and I need to enjoy and explore what both teams -- and both managers -- successes can tell us about the limitations of our own wisdom.
Let's start off with the Indians, because they're relatively easy, and because there really wasn't any debate among AL voters -- Wedge received 19 of 28 first-place votes, and was the only manager to show up on all of the ballots, and beyond perhaps Seattle's
There is the question of agency -- is this Wedge's doing, or the benefit of having a full season of
In contrast, the Diamondbacks are a genuine statistical anomaly, if less so an analytical one. By that, I mean that the D'backs' projected record on the basis of their runs scored and allowed on the full season should have translated into 11 fewer wins and a fourth-place finish; take things up a notch as BP's
Focusing on an area where managers have a direct impact -- bullpen usage patterns and success rates -- is without doubt a disservice to both the benefits of each man's leadership qualities. That's an area where the stats are mute, which is not the same thing as pretending that leadership doesn't matter, the way too many statheads are too-ready to assert.
Melvin deserves credit for being a manager who could trust kids like
It's worth noting that by Clay's analysis, the Rockies finished exactly where they should have, although they should have been the best team in the division by his calculations; as a result, the fact that Hurdle's club won the NL pennant shouldn't really be seen as that much of a surprise, and however amazing the fashion that they did it with their incredible finish, it would be hard to credit Hurdle overly much. Under these same considerations, Manuel rates a solid second-place finisher behind Melvin, as the Phillies weren't supposed to finish higher than second or third, locked up as they were in a virtual analytical tie with the Braves, with both behind the hapless Mets.