A Quick Statistical Exercise for Chipper (by JonathanF)

Now that Chipper has agreed to do work again for the Braves, speculation has naturally arisen that maybe he wants to manage. (Maybe he doesn’t… In fact, I’d be willing to bet he doesn’t. But let’s assume he does. Otherwise, I have nothing to write.) It has often been observed that the best players are rarely very good managers. How good a manager would Chipper have to be to rank as a great former player and a great manager?

I used the BRef list of all managers and reduced the list to those with 10 years or more of managing experience, an over 0.500 record as a manager, at least one year finishing in first place and an ELO rating as player on BRefs ELO lists. It turns out to be a pretty short list. In order of ELO ranking, we have:

NumMgrELOYrsW-L%GW-L%postAvRkPlyof AppWSwon
1Frankie Frisch HOF2298160.51422460.5714.311
2Joe Cronin HOF2215150.5423150.3333.92 
3Fred Clarke HOF2165190.57628290.4673.721
4Joe Torre HOF2152290.53843290.5922.4154
5Cap Anson HOF2148210.5782288 4  
6Bill Terry HOF2065100.55514960.4383.231
7Hughie Jennings HOF1969160.54322030.253.53 
8Clark Griffith HOF1947200.5222918 4.2  
9Al Dark1940130.5119500.526431
10Red Schoendienst HOF1924140.52219990.53.521
11Felipe Alou1909140.50320550.252.91 
12John McGraw HOF1893330.58647690.4812.693
13Frank Chance HOF1857110.59316220.553.142
14Dusty Baker1812200.52631760.4222.77 
15Fielder Jones1806100.5412970.6673.511
16Miller Huggins HOF1745170.55525700.5453.263
17Fred Hutchinson1724120.50116660.24.21 
18Davey Johnson1714170.56224450.491.961
19Mike Hargrove1647160.50323630.5193.15 
20Casey Stengel HOF1610250.50837660.5874.4107
21Mike Scioscia1572160.54625920.4382.171
22Lou Piniella1509230.51735480.462.871
23Billy Southworth HOF1497130.59717700.52.442
24Steve O’Neill1485140.55918790.5713.311
25Charlie Grimm1468190.54723680.2943.33 
26Bill Virdon1379130.51919180.42.93 
27Al Lopez HOF1369170.58424250.22.42 
28Ned Hanlon HOF1326190.532530 4.3  
29Wilbert Robinson HOF1321190.528190.254.82 
30Roger Craig1271100.514750.4383.42 
31Leo Durocher HOF1244240.5437390.4673.231
32Charlie Comiskey HOF1163120.6081410 3.4 1
33Patsy Tebeau1163110.5551339 4.1  
34Billy Martin988160.55322670.4412.351
35Don Zimmer971130.50817440.23.81 

Chipper’s ELO rating is 2315, so if he can fulfill the managerial criteria, he’ll be the greatest player ever to manage at the top level.

As a final combined metric, I create a harmonic average of games managed and ELO ranking as a player, to give a combined ranking from this list. Thus, my aggregate rating for a manager is:

(ELO x Wins Managed)/[(ELO+Wins Managed)/2]

By using the harmonic average, whichever you’re worse in (player or manager) dominates. All player nonmanagers get a 0, as do all manager nonplayers.

The top 10 look like this:

MgrHarmonic
John McGraw HOF2257.105
Joe Torre HOF2237.005
Fred Clarke HOF1859.466
Casey Stengel HOF1748.524
Dusty Baker1738.416
Clark Griffith HOF1709.219
Lou Piniella1655.831
Cap Anson HOF1637.045
Joe Cronin HOF1598.206
Miller Huggins HOF1569.666

A fancier scheme might have scaled the two criteria a little better, but other than one of the worst managers I’ve ever seen ranking 5th on the list, this is probably a pretty good summary of the best players who managed well, or, equivalently, the best managers who played well.

So with an ELO rating of 2315, how many games would Chipper have to win as manager to displace Miller Huggins in 10th place? 1188 wins, a figure achieved by only 42 managers in history. (Mike Hargrove happened to have exactly 1188.) And to beat out Little Napoleon, John McGraw? 2202 wins, which would put Chipper 6th all time, between Joe Torre and Sparky Anderson.

Ain’t happening.

70 thoughts on “A Quick Statistical Exercise for Chipper (by JonathanF)”

  1. Late to the party…

    I’m not trying to defend the front office, but I’m not sure the “damaged goods” narrative really holds.

    Writing “2nd-tier-pitching-prospects-for-one-reason-or-another” would’ve been more accurate, and also more unwieldy. My point is, I hope Copp’s infatuation with young pitching doesn’t lead him to undermine his big trade success.

    I get that you think the return for Simmons was insufficient, but the team did sign him for pretty big bucks in the first place due to his defensive value, right?

    Previous GM regime, though.

    And they did just trade for Inciarte and sign Tyler Flowers. It could be that they properly value defense, generally, but just don’t think Simmons, specifically, is as valuable as you do — or as valuable as they think the Newcomb-Ellis combo is.

    Maybe. I’m skeptical. I don’t get the sense they are trying to find hidden value in defensively-gifted players in either case — more like “what ML CFer can we get along with Swanson?” and “who out there can be had for cheap and improves in any way upon Bethancourt?”

    In the Simmons case, they seemed to prioritize getting a ML SS back. It would be truly crazy to value Newcomb/Ellis alone as much as Simmons on his contract.

    I’ve been avoiding the “generational talent” rhetoric because that talent, combined with everything else Simmons brings to the table nets you 3-4 WAR, which is awesome for his contract and makes him plenty valuable, but not necessarily irreplaceable.

  2. Sounds like a lot of numbers that make my head hurt. From my eye a lot of player managers have done quite well recently: Mike Matheny, Don Mattingly come to mind…The numbers there can’t predict the affect that a personality can have on the clubhouse

  3. Previous GM regime, though.

    Only technically. By all accounts, Hart spearheaded the extension spree in early 2014. Wren only ever worried about extensions if free agency was looming (Dan Uggla).

  4. Very interesting. I like the harmonic convergence chart — it lays out a reasonable answer to a question I’ve thought about but never articulated.

    If I had one quibble it would be that I believe the correct term is now “Jeff Lynne’s ELO rating”, but that’s a bit wordy for a column heading.

  5. Sansho1… Always Mr. Blue Sky. The harmonic method comes (as does almost everything) from Bill James, who used it on HR and SB to get a power-speed aggregate number back in the 80s.

    GS: Until you’ve toiled for at least 10 years as a manager, I assume that it’s all just luck one way or the other. The problem is, if you start with bad luck you never get another chance.

  6. Hart was definitely the one on television talking about how great the extensions were. I remember that explicitly, as I was wondering why the GM wasn’t on TV talking about these things. Was that foreshadowing the end of Wren? Duh duh duuuuh…

  7. It’s interesting that we’re starting to see “free agency” in collegiate sports. Grier can go play D2 for a half season next year, then go to whatever team he wants in 2017. Pretty interesting. You heard it here first: Grier, a NC native, is going to go to USC to play for the coach who recruited him.

  8. @7 The hiring of Hart in the first place was the first clue that Wren was working his way out the door. If your company hires a guy with a similar resume to your boss, and sticks him right between your boss and you, your boss might not like you much.

  9. Besides, Wren was hardly on the cutting-edge of defensive valuation or anything. He was the very definition of the mid-aughts “get as many bats as possible; figure out where to slot them in on defense later” GM.

  10. What’s Matheny supposed to say? “Yeah, he’s right, we’re old and we suck.” He defended his players and his front office’s higher offer. Gosh, I hate Deadspin.

  11. Deadspin is completely devoid of journalistic integrity, but usually their articles, if they are trying to make an argument, are well argued.

    That was like a Bleacher Report article. That should have been a slideshow it was so empty and clickbaity.

  12. @15. As I mentioned, we have to thank the Marlins for asking for the entire universe. We also have to thank the Indians for asking for immediate major league ready talents.

  13. With the Miller trade, they got as much close to major league ready talent as you could expect. I’m interested to see what talent they get that can affect the 2016 roster for Inciarte.

  14. Good point Rob, don’t know what the Indians were asking for. I believe they were asking for Pollock like we did.

  15. The Nats are deep in the process of trying to replace Dan Uggla with Brandon Phillips. Remember when we were doing that?

    Yeah. I’ll take the tear down and rebuild, thanks.

  16. You can have it, Sam.

    A key difference, of course, is that Dan Uggla isn’t on their payroll right now.

  17. I realize delayed gratification is the kind of thing that requires adult, future-oriented thinking.

  18. The Reds are fortunate someone wants to pay Brandon Phillips $14 million each for his age 35 and 36 seasons. His age 34 season was a fluky bounce-back after 2 below-average campaigns, and if they don’t move him before the season, there’s a good chance they won’t be able to without eating salary.

  19. Okay, there are a few precepts @19 that don’t make sense before we even get to the weird attitude stuff:

    1. Why shouldn’t the Nationals try to compete this year?
    2. Why wouldn’t Brandon Phillips be a good upgrade for them?
    3. Why shouldn’t a team trying to compete look to upgrade at a position that clearly underperformed?

  20. So what’s the best-case (reasonably achievable) scenario for the Braves’ CF situation? Inciarte traded for prospects, Bourn plays well enough to get traded for low level prospect mid-season, Mallex Smith comes up to take over CF?

  21. Welcome to Liberty Ballers, I mean Braves Journal, where the Defenders of the Process argue with the heretics as to whether their self-imposed walk through the wilderness shall end with reward.

    But getting to appoint yourself the adult in the argument is its own reward, outcomes irrespective, I suppose.

    P.S. Dan Uggla had 141 PAs in a minimum salary bench role for the 2015 Nats. Brandon Philips is a weird direction for them but they were -7 pythag and had awful injury luck and an Ian Desmond first-half black hole last year. They could do almost nothing and probably regress their way to 10 extra wins. Or they could trade for Brandon Philips and probably do about the same. Whatever.

  22. It’s a little odd to be arguing about Brandon Phillips when Phillips himself nixed the trade after Washington wouldn’t give him a contract extension, something even the Nationals aren’t dumb enough to do. But if the Nats think paying market price for a declining second baseman into his late thirties is the path to contention, I hope Phillips reconsiders.

    @25 — The best case for CF is that the Braves keep Inciarte, and he plays well, and that’s it. They’re not really under any pressure to trade him unless someone overpays, and he’s young enough to still be useful when the Braves are good again (if anyone is).

  23. @26

    Wilderness? The Braves won 79 games in 2014. They’ll probably win 79 games in 2016, and will have close to the consensus #1 farm system in baseball, compared to #27-30 in 2014. One 67-win season when you drastically improve the health of the organization in almost every facet is not “wilderness”, but feel free to be a sensationalist.

    And if you’re going to cherry-pick reasons as to why the Nationals will back-door themselves into improvements, then please do the same for your Bravos, who are meandering through the wilderness. Ian Desmond’s first-half black hole is akin to the Braves’ second half bullpen black hole, while being a deeper black hole that we most likely have improved much more than the Nats have theirs. And if injuries are an anomaly, then one must conclude that selling off assets one-by-one until you’re a 67-win ball club is an equal anomaly. We certainly won’t expect that this year, as the Nats are hoping for health.

    Be fair.

  24. @27

    RE: Inciarte.

    Completely agreed. Just hold onto him. He’s a 3 WAR centerfielder when our next best option is probably replacement level. If you get blown away, and you can even take back a 1 WAR 2016 centerfielder, then go for it. I know Adam’s not a big fan of limiting your trade partners by needing to get a major league ready position partner back in the deal, and I understand and appreciate that, but I don’t want to go into 2016 with Bourn as our CF when we were TEASED into the Ender’s Game.

  25. @25, I think the best-case scenario is that Inciarte is a really good player for the Braves. I’m not convinced that he is, unfortunately.

  26. #30 – Yep, agreed. If half of the teams in baseball are sold on the guy then by all means open up the bidding process. If it turns into another Swanson type package go for it.

  27. Unless you get an offer that blows you away, you hold onto Inciarte and either move Bourn*, waive Bourn, or let him play the role of 5th OF while Smith plays in Gwinnett. If Smith plays so well that he absolutely demands a promotion, you move on to waiving Bourn if no one will give you salary relief for him.

    *in this scenario, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and the inexplicably acquired Emilio Bonifacio are identical cases

    Bottom line is you have two high end young CF candidates. One has shown skills at the ML level with great defense (Inciarte.) The other has not played above the low minors much (Smith.) If both are fantastic and play themselves onto the roster, you try to flip one of them for a power hitting corner (3B, LF or RF.)

  28. I don’t see the downside of signing Bonifacio for $1 million. He was a highly valuable utility player 2010-2014 and he’s 30, and he figures to be a lot better than Bourn or Swisher. Cut him if he sucks or flip him for a C prospect in the summer.

  29. I think the only downside to Bonifacio is that you may already have the same player in Castro, but right, he’s been a good major league player in the past, so why can’t he get back there? Kind of along the same lines as Bourn and Swisher. Swisher had a 115 OPS+ in 2013, and he’s 34. Did he really tank that quickly? Bourn was still stealing bases, playing good center fielder, had a 89 OPS+ in 2014, and he’s 33. If one of those 3 can bounce back, then that could really solve a lot of problems.

    Beckham sucks.

  30. I think the Braves want Bourn to work with Smith and he still has some speed. So he is at least somewhat useful. If he hits at all, someone will want him in July for a lotto ticket.

    With a team like the Braves are trotting out, having a few guys like Bourn and Swisher in the clubhouse can prove to be valuable down the road. I think you can say Johnny Gomes had an impact that will be felt for several years, even though he played terrible.

  31. @28

    Yeah, that’s great. Can we wait until this actually works out before we perform a Cam Newton-style five-minute long end-zone dance on everybody who wasn’t a big fan of rebuilding a team already capable of making the playoffs? If it works out, you’ll be right, obviously, but one trade does not make it a fait accompli that it will.

    And disagree with three likely sub.-500 seasons in a row being called wilderness if you like, but it’s not like it’s absurd to think that way. I do not like it when my baseball team has a losing season. If it can be justified in the end, fine, but let’s not act like people should be happy about watching losing baseball.

  32. @38

    If you find anyone who says you should be happy with watching losing baseball, then please let me know. But I’ll tell you this: I don’t remember people flipping their stuff when we were a sub-.500 team in 2014. You’re just mad someone told you it was going to happen instead of it just… happening. Here’s the other freebie: the 2016 Braves were a sub-.500 team without the rebuild. And there’s a good argument that 2017 was going to be more of the same. How’s that for being enthused for 3 sub-.500 years?

  33. Wilderness?

    For the foreseeable future, we’re a losing team with needs all over the field. The timeline for when we’re supposed to be good again seems to have slipped back as we rebuild a little more this offseason. Our raft of pitching prospects are, well, exactly that, and the ones with the highest ceilings have the biggest hurdles to overcome. It’s unclear if we’re ever going to deliver on promises to spend real money to improve the team, and even if we do, our ability to evaluate/value talent is questionable.

    So, yeah, wilderness.

    And if you’re going to cherry-pick reasons as to why the Nationals will back-door themselves into improvements, then please do the same for your Bravos, who are meandering through the wilderness. Ian Desmond’s first-half black hole is akin to the Braves’ second half bullpen black hole, while being a deeper black hole that we most likely have improved much more than the Nats have theirs.

    I get that you really want this to work, which is great, but Ian Desmond’s awful first half is entirely different than our second-half bullpen catastrophe. It’s not like the pitchers we were throwing out there had established a track record of being among the very best at their job and suddenly started crapping the bed. When Desmond bounced back, it’s easy to say that was positive regression. If you look at the list of names on the bullpen depth chart, half of them don’t have any kind major league success to speak of. And when you look under the hood, it’s not like any of them seem all that special. (I can’t believe I just spent time looking up Andrew McKirahan and Matt Marksberry’s stats.) Collectively, they still might out-WAR Trea Turner next year, but it’s not like bullpen regression is any kind of reason to be throwing out predictions of a 79-win season.

    And if injuries are an anomaly, then one must conclude that selling off assets one-by-one until you’re a 67-win ball club is an equal anomaly. We certainly won’t expect that this year, as the Nats are hoping for health.

    OK, but why wouldn’t we expect not to sell off assets this year too? I’m rooting for Teheran, Vizcaino, and if I can bring myself to be so naive, Norris to rebuild value and net us players that create more of a clear 2018 window.

  34. What exactly is the path for this team to get 79 wins? That seems like an entirely unreasonable expectation.

  35. @41

    1) Yes, I’m more optimistic than you are. As people have already heard my schtick, so they have they heard yours with equal vigor. Sweet.

    2) You’re neglecting to understand (perhaps intentionally) that this team would have been completely up the creek had they continued in their direction. While you’re not ready to think this team could be 12 games better for 2016 when we now have markedly better players, why do you think the 2015 team would have been 13+ games better than 2014? Because they had similar players? Is that it? And even if they did, that’s a 92 win team. You’re really saying the rebuild is the inferior plan because they Braves may have won 92 games and let two of their three best hitters leave for FA? We had a bottom-5 farm system. Do you remember these facts? You want to talk about wilderness? As painful as it is to watch what’s going on right now, 79-win teams and no farm system is considerably more painful.

    This whole mentality that suggests we blew up the 1927 Yankees who also had a deep farm system is beyond crazy.

  36. @45

    Someone over at Talking Chop, I think, wrote up an optimistic but reasonable path to 79 wins. Check ‘er out.

  37. So basically the answer is everyone on the roster has the best season you can imagine them having and you get to 79 wins?

  38. Rob has it correct. If 3-5 years of rebuilding is “the wilderness” now, god above what the decade plus long path from 2016-??? would have been. 40 years in the desert? If we had not gone into rebuild mode when and where we did, we would be closing out whatever season 2015 might have been (a season with no Shelby Miller, no Mike Minor, no Matt Wisler or any of the guys that filled in the rotation; a season where Lucas Sims probably has to get called up to make meaningful starts in the Majors) and looking at…bumpkis. No money to resign Heyward or Upton (that money would still be tied up in BJ Upton and Craig Kimbrel, plus any stop gap starter we had brought in to fill in for Aaron Harang.) The best prospect in the system would be Albies, with Jose Peraza and his fans pretending he was an impact player that would make a difference. No OF prospects at all above Braxton Davidson. Jason Hursh your #2 pitching prospect. How many years to you think it would have taken until we drafted and advanced enough players to compete again.

    If the choice is between the Astros/Cubs or the Pirates/Royals, you go Astros/Cubs.

  39. @48

    http://www.talkingchop.com/2015/12/14/9739162/atlanta-braves-competitive-2016-2017

    Some have good years, some don’t. “11 wins out from a playoff spot.” Scanning back through it, I’m not sure if they ever throw a number. This is the most comprehensive look using WAR that I’ve found. It’s probably not healthy for anyone to beat this cluster any more to death than they have.

    If we want to be technical, if everyone had a career year, you probably have a pretty dang good team.

    If the choice is between the Astros/Cubs or the Pirates/Royals, you go Astros/Cubs.

    Well that’s kinda the point. Some aren’t aware that those are the four options on the shelf. Somewhere, we’re still the 1995 Braves in some people’s minds. Sorry fellas; ain’t no Calvary like that coming over the hill.

  40. Sorry, computer issues :(

    Talk about moving the goalposts…

    I don’t have a problem with the idea that we needed to rebuild. The strategy, to me, is sound. The tactics haven’t always flowed from the strategy, has mostly been my problem. And this idea that we need to be sanguine about it all, I don’t get. I’d rather not delude myself.

    I’m not sure what Sam is getting at @… I meant @19.

    Is the question: would we rather be the Nats or the Braves? Because I’d rather have the Nats’ problems right now. I would rather we took the Nats’ franchise and slapped the Braves logo on it, and then go from there. They’re certainly not perfect, but they’re going to stay competitive for a while.

  41. The Swanson trade was awesome. I’m excited about Sims, Riley, and Albies. We can all look forward to at least a spring training’s worth of Williams Perez jokes. That’s good enough for me.

  42. @Rob, I’ll bet you whatever your preferred friendly wagering amount is that the 2016 Braves don’t get to 79 wins. 2015 actually outplayed their pythag by 6 wins, and they go into 2016 with arguably a worse offense and a demonstrably worse starting rotation than 2015 did.

    @52 is what I was getting at. Sam acted @19 like the Braves are obviously in a better position going forward than the Nationals and stretched a Dan Uggla reference for dramatic effect. But I think I’d take my chances with a core of Harper, Rendon, Scherzer, Strasburg, Gonzalez, and an ownership willing to spend $175 million and eat the back end of a bad contract or two along the way. It’s silly homerism to act like a core of Freeman, Teheran, hopes, and dreams is the obviously superior alternative.

  43. While I was somehow getting mildly taunted by my Marlins friend down in South Florida last week, I missed my office holiday party. When I returned to the office today, I was given my Secret Santa gift.

    It’s a t-shirt that reads “The Braves Are Why I Drink.”

    Yes, taunted by a Mets fan.

    Hey, only 2 NL East fanbases to go…

  44. The Nationals’ “core” is on its way out. Zimmermann and Desmond are gone. Strasburg is a free agent after the season, Gonzalez the year after that, Harper the year after that. Werth and Zimmerman are cooked. They’ve got Giolito and Trea Turner, so the cupboard’s not completely bare, but I’d hardly characterize Washington as a team set up to succeed for years to come. Their window is open right now, and if they don’t win right now, they’re going to be in trouble.

  45. My point is I personally prefer a long term rebuild process (I.e. 1986-90) to trying
    To duct tape one more run together out of old broken down parts of other teams farms.

  46. As long as they have Harper, they’ll be going for it. And they get Scherzer, Rendon, Giolito, and Turner for all that time. That’s plenty good. It’s worth saying that Giolito is better than any of our pitching prospects, an actual projectable ace.

    Even when Harper is a FA, the market will be flush with talent for them to replenish. They have the timing and resources to continue competing for a while.

  47. If you can’t keep Heyward and Upton, what’s the point of all this? If we ever develop guys as good as them (which is unlikely near term) then we only get to enjoy them for a couple of years before they get too expensive. I now have to root for a Marlins-esque lightning in a bottle season as the best case outcome. Yay. Still not liking our new reality.

  48. Maybe that’s the point of keeping Hart around. We perhaps can lock up Swanson/Riley/Albies very early on and buy an extra year or two.

  49. You can’t keep Heyward and Upton as long as Dan Uggla and Melvin Upton are eating up a quarter of the payroll to do nothing. If Swanson/Riley/Albies become stars, the Braves won’t have that problem.

    The largest contract the Braves have given out in their history was to Freddie Freeman, a homegrown star they wanted to keep around. They can play in that league for the right player. Their public comments indicate that they didn’t think Heyward or Upton was that player. (Speaking personally, I disagree with that assessment regarding Heyward, but agree regarding Upton. Even if the Braves had unlimited money and were in win-now mode, I’m not sure I’d want to lock up Justin Upton into his thirties.)

  50. Justin Upton, while perhaps not a HOFer in waiting, is the very model of a player who should age well. He’s athletic, healthy, and year-to-year as consistent as any player you could name.

  51. His defense is slipping, he strikes out in a quarter of his PAs, and his contact skills are in decline. That kind of player always worries me, because there’s not a lot of margin for error. He’s a great player now, but if he loses ten or fifteen points of batting average and continues to regress on defense, he suddenly becomes a questionable player. And if you’re paying him like an MVP when that happens…

  52. His defense hasn’t slipped to my knowledge — he doesn’t have great defensive instincts and never did. I recall posting here to that very effect when he came to Atlanta. As far as his K rate, you’ll notice that his line drive rate has increased along with it — this doesn’t indicate an erosion of skill, but a choice of approach. He swings harder for greater impact.

  53. Both of those guys are better than Freeman. Not that it matters all that much, since only keeping one and trying to win with rookies is an uphill battle no matter which one you choose to keep.

  54. @65-67 Justin Upton’s 2015 season was largely in line with his career norms – a 120 wRC+ (career 121), 11 BB% (career 10.3%), 25.6 K% (career 24.0%), .203 ISO (.202 career). He was, by Fangraphs’ methodology, solidly positive in baserunning and has improved his dWAR each of the last several years. All of that, in combination with his 19 SB, doesn’t really look like a guy on the cusp of losing his legs.

    If you want to worry about JUp’s future, I would note that his contact rates dropped marginally in 2015, with a swinging strike rate of 13.3% (tied for 17th in baseball last year). His tendency to be selective on pitches in the strike zone (and whiff often when he does swing) means he needs to do damage upon contact – obviously, that’s worked out well for JUp to date, but it doesn’t leave a ton of room for error.

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