Sunday, February 01, 2004

Yesterday I received two phone calls at almost exactly the same time from two of my friends telling me that this blog had just been added as a link from AstrosDaily, the best Astros site on the internet, and one that you can visit by checking out my links at the bottom of the page. To some of you, this may not seem like such a big deal, and to those of you who fall into this category, I must respectfully ask you to shove it, because this is a big deal, and it rocks, and it is the best.

What this means for this blog is I'm going to talk about baseball a little bit more often. Don't worry, I'll still have time for occasional ramblings, guest blogs, etc.

There was an interesting article in today's Chronicle by Richard Justice. Justice is pretty good, although he occasionally Writes. In only. Short Sentences. For Maximum. Dramatic Effect. But I like most of his articles. Today he wrote about Astros manager Jimy Williams, and that although he may be on the hot seat (which would be new to me), he shouldn't be, because he is a good manager, a player's manager, and a professional. Let's take an in-depth look at Jimy Williams:

He is 866-746 for his career, a .537 winning percentage.
He managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 1986-1989, finishing 4th-2nd-3rd-4th.
He managed the Boston Red Sox from 1997-half of 2001, finishing 4-2-2-2-2.
He's managed the Houston Astros in 2002 and 2003, finishing 2nd and 2nd.

A new way to judge managers, which may or may not be completely accurate, is to look at a team's expected win-loss (also known as Pythagorean) record (bases on runs scored^2 and runs allowed^2) and see how this compares to their actual won-loss record. The theory is that a good manager will get the most out of his team, winning more close games than he loses, etc.

(Thanks to FredUD for these stats:)For reference, Bobby Cox has 'beaten' Pythagoras 11 out of 13 years - he has 'added' 30 wins over those 13 years. Dusty Baker has 'beaten' Pythagoras 7 out of 11 years, and is +18 overall. *Drum roll* Jimy Williams has beaten Pythagoras 1 out of 11 years, and is -36 overall.

-36 wins / 11 years = -3.27 wins per year. -3.27 WINS PER YEAR!!

I know this isn't the most reliable statistic in the world, but if you're an Astros fan this has to make you sit up and take notice.

One thing I think Jimy does well is manage his starting pitchers. He caught a lot of flak last year for having a quick hook, but I thought he did an excellent job, particularly with Oswalt, Miller, and Redding - there is a (hard-to-define) correlation between high pitch counts and injury, and Williams is playing it safe. Dusty Baker, on the other hand, had Mark Prior and Kerry Wood throw 120+ pitches per game multiple times each down the stretch, which may well have damaging long-term effects.

Here are some other interesting numbers:

The 2003 Houston Astros ranked 14th in the NL in stolen bases attempted. I think this is a good thing - we certainly didn't have any speed demons, and there has been work done that demonstrates stealing bases is generally overrated - it's usually not worth risking an out.

The Astros had 61 sacrfice bunts, which ranks 13th-lowest in the NL. I think this is a great thing - we're not giving away many 'free outs'.

The Astros issued 53 intentional walks, which ranks 6th-highest in the NL. I think this is a little high, especially since we don't play in a division with Barry Bonds. The only guy I would intentionally walk in the NL Central is Pujols. No one else.

I think Jimy has done a good job handling the pitching staff, and we're not wasting tons of outs bunting and stealing, so why does he have such a bad record against Pythagoras? I don't know, but I don't like it. He better do pretty damn well this year, because he certainly has the talent to go a long way. Otherwise, I'll be one of the first in line calling for his replacement.

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