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Manuel's Tinkering Analyzed

by Sox Fan Pat Rutherford

Baseball Info Solutions did not ask or seek to answer this question but provided the data in which to answer this question in their new book The Bill James Handbook.  Bill James put together a section in the book called the “Manager’s Record” in which is attempts to put to together stats like a back of a baseball card for managers.  I looked at Jerry and compared him to other American League mangers.  This may not be entirely Jerry’s fault but 2002 and 2003 versions of the White Sox were the only years Jerry finished worse then their expected win total based on the Bill James Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball. 

To tinker or not to tinker that is the question, is a question every manager asks themselves before and during each game and one of the more constant points made in the WSI Clubhouse was the numerous lineups Jerry used.  I bet it would surprise most of the board members that he used the least amount of lineups of any American League manager.  The Sox posted 107 different lineup cards last season, while the Eric Wedge’s Tribe used most at 148.  This says a lot for perception, I could have sworn Jerry used 175 lineups this season.  In the event Jerry made out a different lineup card, he did not make the most out of it.  Jerry despite the best available evidence platooned the least amount times, only Mike Hargrove and Macha platoon at a lower or equal rate.  Out of 107 lineups Jerry made up 57% were to gain a platoon advantage, the American league average was 61%.  With players with huge major righty/lefty splits like Paul Konerko who struggled vs. righties (.557 OPS, July and Aug .760 OPS) while lighting up (.966 OPS, July and Aug 1.434 OPS) southpaws, the Sox should have employed an aggressive platooning system to get better and constant production from the offence.  Most likely, the Sox would have scored more runs and won more ballgames if the Sox platooned players like Paul and Brain Daubach.  

The other board’s complaint of the sleeping Jerry may have been correct; White Sox under Jerry were the second least active team in the AL in tactical situations such as sacrifice hitting and stealing bases.  The average American League team stole 91 bases and grounded into 128 double plays, the White Sox swiped 77 bags and grounded into 132 (fourth worst) double plays.  When the Sox tried in game tactics to move a runner over, they used the bunt rather than stealing more so then any other team in the AL.  Lack of speed from older players might have cause the Sox to rely less on the stolen base.  The Sox stopped trying to steal as many bases in 2002 and 2003 vs. the previous four years of Jerry (169 per vs. 106 per).  Adding in game lineup moves, such as pitch runners and hitters, into consideration the Sox were the sixth least active team, middle of the pack, and the Sox did have a wide lead in defensive replacements 67 to closest team, Angles at 40.   

Looking back on what could have been the problem was not that Jerry tinkered too much but he actually did not tinker enough and when he did tinkered, it was not in a way that helped the club win games.  Who would have thought that was the truth half way through this season. 

See Table Here.


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