NL Manager of the Year

By Jason Wojciechowski on October 5, 2010 at 10:30 AM

Yesterday's post, unfair as it might have been, lays out how I'm going to approach my National League Manager of the Year "vote": bottom five teams in sacrifice bunts make the cut, then I see which manager best deployed his top five hitters and top five relief pitchers.

The bottom five in the NL, per Baseball-Reference, were Milwaukee, Arizona, Philadelphia, Florida, and Colorado. Ken Macha was just fired, but that doesn't mean I won't vote for him. Arizona, though, had two managers, so I'm tossing them out and adding Pittsburgh to the list. Fredi Gonzalez also got fired mid-year in Florida, which would leave the Cubs next if Lou Piniella hadn't retired. Instead, we fall back to Dusty Baker in Cincinnati.

As I did yesterday, here's a chart with each of those five teams' five best hitters by MLVr, along with their total PAs and where that total ranked them on their team.

Milwaukee Philadelphia Colorado Pittsburgh Cincinnati
Ryan Braun .250 684 (3) Jayson Werth .303 652 (1) Carlos Gonzalez .392 636 (1) Neil Walker .164 469 (4) Joey Votto .470 648 (2)
Corey Hart .226 614 (5) Carlos Ruiz .215 433 (7) Troy Tulowitzki .337 529 (2) Andrew McCutchen .160 653 (2) Scott Rolen .206 537 (6)
Prince Fielder .226 714 (2) Ryan Howard .201 620 (4) Ryan Spilborghs .105 388 (9) Pedro Alvarez .094 386 (8) Ryan Hanigan .204 243 (9)
Jim Edmonds .182 240 (10) Chase Utley .174 511 (6) Melvin Mora .089 354 (10) Jose Tabata .076 441 (6) Jay Bruce .190 573 (4)
Rickie Weeks .168 754 (1) Ross Gload .136 138 (13) Ian Stewart .060 441 (5) Ryan Doumit .025 456 (5) Laynce Nix .144 182 (13)

For Ken Macha, Edmonds' numbers are deflated by injuries, but he also hit sixth much of the year, behind Casey McGehee, though only one spot behind. McGehee falls just below Rickie Weeks in MLVr, so it's not a terrible decision, especially since Edmonds hit with far more power this season than he had any right to expect. Macha's offensive player usage, then, looks pretty good. Weeks, Hart, Braun, and Fielder were basically the top of the order.

Charlie Manuel had Jayson Werth batting fifth all year, not just behind Ryan Howard, but also behind Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, and Shane Victorino. Carlos Ruiz had a fluky year with his batting average, but he has a history of being a good OBP guy, and even flashed nice pop in 2009. Batting him 7th and 8th all season is inexcusable. Chase Utley got hurt, depressing his total PAs. Ross Gload only got sporadic starts, but he's 34 years old and had a career year for power in 138 PAs. Could Charlie have spotted him in for Placido Polanco at 3B a few more times? Maybe, but Polanco's probably the better play over the long run of the season, so no points against Manuel for that.

Jim Tracy, as you can see, pretty much had two hitters this season. Spilborghs could have played more, and when he did start, he probably shouldn't have been hitting behind guys like Jay Payton (!), Todd Helton, Eric Young, and Dexter Fowler. Melvin Mora batting fifth and sixth is fine because he's Melvin Mora and he's 38 years old. Ian Stewart, though, probably shouldn't have been hitting seventh.

Where the Rockies had two good hitters, John Russell basically had none. Neil Walker joined the team after two months and hit second or third the rest of the way. McCutchen finished the year leading off after hitting second and third for much of the first half. Pedro Alvarez came up midseason and wound up hitting fifth most of the way. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, you're not trying to win now if you're John Russell, so the fact that your third best hitter was hitting fifth doesn't really matter. On the other hand, you are trying to develop your young players, so maybe you want to get Alvarez as many PAs as you possibly can, which might dictate that you hit him in the top half of the lineup, even as a rookie. He's not, after all, that young at 23.

Finally, Dusty Baker. Joey Votto and Scott Rolen batted 3-4. In my ideal world, they'd bat 2-3, but I'll live with 3-4. Ryan Hanigan hit shockingly well and has had a good OBP in the past, but Ramon Hernandez had a .364 OBP himself this year, and has a history of having more power. Dusty Baker, though, apparently believes in "the catcher hits eighth" and damned be the fact that both guys were better hitters than Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera, Drew Stubbs, Miguel Cairo, or any number of other players who hit ahead of the catchers this season. Jay Bruce hit fifth with some frequency, but he hit sixth, often behind Jonny Gomes, more often.

On to the bullpens. As yesterday, this is SIERA, IP, and gmLI (average leverage index at the time the manager calls the pitcher into the game).

Milwaukee Philadelphia Colorado Pittsburgh Cincinnati
John Axford 2.80 58 1.74 Ryan Madson 2.49 53 1.39 Rafael Betancourt 1.31 62.3 1.50 Joel Hanrahan 2.28 69.7 1.09 Bill Bray 3.31 28.3 0.85
Carlos Villanueva 2.95 52.7 1.16 Jose Contreras 3.19 56.7 1.17 Matt Belisle 2.82 92 1.20 Octavio Dotel 3.17 40 1.69 Nick Masset 3.34 76.7 1.28
Kameron Loe 3.26 58.3 1.45 Brad Lidge 3.55 45.7 1.75 Huston Street 3.17 47.3 1.73 Chan Ho Park 3.59 28.3 0.58 Arthur Rhodes 3.59 55 1.52
Zach Braddock 3.54 33.7 1.32 Chad Durbin 3.91 68.7 0.93 Esmil Rogers 3.63 33.7 1.02 Evan Meek 3.63 80 1.18 Jordan Smith 4.20 42 0.78
Todd Coffey 3.84 62.3 1.03 David Herndon 4.34 52.3 0.57 Manny Corpas 4.33 62.3 1.31 DJ Carrasco 4.11 55.7 0.93 Logan Ondrusek 4.38 58.7 1.01

Milwaukee's bullpen usage looks straight. Macha appears to have adjusted well after the Hoffman Disaster.

Charlie Manuel only had four pitchers with gmLIs above one -- three of those are on the chart above, and the other was his lefty specialist, JC Romero. Philly's starters went deep into games and there weren't that many close situations for the bullpen, apparently. It looks like most of the ones there were went, properly, to Madson and Lidge, though Ryan Madson sure didn't pitch many innings.

Rafael Betancourt's SIERA is not a typo; nor is Matt Belisle's IP total. (Rogers's IP total is his IP only as a reliever, excluding his eight starts.) Perhaps Manny Corpas could have traded a few innings with Huston Street or Esmil Rogers.

The Pirates used a lot of different RPs this year -- this list excludes Chris Resop and Wil Ledezma for pitching fewer than 20 innings. Pittsburgh also did not have a lot of high-leverage situations, presumably for different reasons than the Phillies. That said, Hanrahan's gmLI is far too low, though his IP total is correctly high.

For the same reasons as the Pirates, Aroldis Chapman's ridiculous SIERA is excluded -- not enough innings to be meaningful. (This is unfortunate for Dusty, but I'll give him fudge points because not only did Chapman lead the team in SIERA, he also led the team in gmLI.) I do want to note that four of the five guys on that list have IP totals lower than their number of games pitched. That's probably a sign of over-specialization. Further, there are three players not in the team's top five in SIERA who had gmLIs of 1.49 and above: Danny Herrera, Enerio Del Rosario, and Francisco Cordero. That's not good when your best SIERA guy has a below-average gmLI.

Ken Macha, then put his best players in a position to do the most damage on offense, very rarely used the sacrifice bunt, and deployed his bullpen reasonably. He got fired for his trouble, but I hope he'll console himself that I'm giving him my NL Manager of the Year vote. Here's for Ken Macha!