Manager ejections: An analysis

This was the 161st (and last) ejection in Bobby Cox's managerial career - Justin Sullivan

Data on manager ejections isn't easy to find. This post explores ejections past and present.

There are items in baseball that merit scrutiny for which data isn't easy to come by, at least not at traditional sites like Baseball-Reference.com or FanGraphs. I've always been interested in manager ejections but was never able to easily find data. On a whim, I did a Google search and saw the information had been right under my nose for quite some time -- going to the Manager section of Retrosheet yielded pure gold. In addition to traditional wins and losses, information on manager ejections is included as well. After taking a couple of days to gather and process the data, I found some very interesting information. This first table shows ejections among current managers (all data through the end of the 2013 season):

Manager Team From To G Eject
Ron Gardenhire Minnesota 2002 2013 1953 68
Bruce Bochy San Francisco 1995 2013 3069 60
Clint Hurdle Pittsburgh 2002 2013 1653 38
Mike Scioscia LA Angels 2000 2013 2267 36
Terry Francona Cleveland 1997 2013 2115 35
Ned Yost Kansas City 2003 2013 1572 33
Joe Maddon Tampa Bay 1996 2013 1358 33
Terry Collins NY Mets 1994 2013 1372 29
Bob Melvin Oakland 2003 2013 1432 29
Buck Showalter Baltimore 1992 2013 2257 26
John Gibbons Toronto 2005 2013 781 25
Fredi Gonzalez Atlanta 2007 2013 1049 22
Joe Girardi NY Yankees 2006 2013 1143 21
Buddy Black San Diego 2007 2013 1144 18
Lloyd McClendon Seattle 2001 2013 784 18
Ron Washington Texas 2007 2012 1135 13
Don Mattingly LA Dodgers 2011 2013 495 12
Kirk Gibson Arizona 2011 2013 580 7
John Farrell Boston 2011 2013 495 7
Robin Ventura Chicago White Sox 2012 2013 322 7
Mike Matheny St. Louis 2012 2013 333 6
Ron Roenicke Milwaukee 2011 2013 486 5
Bo Porter Houston 2013 2013 162 3
Mike Redmond Miami 2013 2013 162 2
Walt Weiss Colorado 2013 2013 162 0

Not listed are new managers Brad Ausmus (Detroit), Bryan Price (Cincinnati), Rick Renteria (Chicago Cubs), Ryne Sandberg (Philadelphia) and Matt Williams (Washington). In general, the more games, the more ejections, but note the difference between Ron Gardenhire and Bruce Bochy when Bochy has mananged over 1100 more games.

The records go back to around 1900, and this table shows the managers with the most ejections:

Manager From To G Eject Pct
Bobby Cox 1978 2010 4508 161 3.6%
John McGraw 1899 1932 4769 116 2.4%
Leo Durocher 1939 1973 3739 94 2.5%
Earl Weaver 1968 1986 2541 94 3.7%
Tony LaRussa 1979 2011 5094 87 1.7%
Paul Richards 1951 1976 1837 81 4.4%
Frankie Frisch 1933 1951 2246 81 3.6%
Jim Leyland 1986 2013 3499 72 2.1%
Ron Gardenhire 2002 2013 1953 68 3.5%
Joe Torre 1977 2010 4329 66 1.5%
Lou Piniella 1986 2010 3548 63 1.8%
Clark Griffith 1901 1919 2918 61 2.1%
Bruce Bochy 1995 2013 3069 60 2.0%
Charlie Manuel 2000 2013 1826 52 2.8%
Bill Rigney 1956 1976 2561 52 2.0%
Mike Hargrove 1991 2007 2363 50 2.1%
Sparky Anderson 1970 1995 4030 48 1.2%
Billy Martin 1969 1988 2267 46 2.0%
Ralph Houk 1961 1984 3157 45 1.4%
Phil Garner 1992 2007 2040 44 2.2%
Gene Mauch 1960 1987 3942 44 1.1%
Tom Lasorda 1976 1996 3040 43 1.4%
Bobby Valentine 1985 2012 2351 43 1.8%
Jimmy Dykes 1934 1961 2962 42 1.4%
Buddy Bell 1996 2007 1243 42 3.4%
Jim Fregosi 1978 2000 2122 41 1.9%
Dick Williams 1967 1988 3023 40 1.3%

Bobby Cox is well-known as having the most ejections, John McGraw represented an era when men were men, and Leo Durocher and Earl Weaver were well-known for their pugnaciousness, but with few exceptions, managers weren't thrown out with great frequency. Then again, when was the last time a football or basketball coach was ejected from a game?

The priceless part of the Retrosheet data is the explanations for some of the ejections:

Year Manager Team Reason
2010 Ned Yost Milwaukee Complaining about umpire's attitude towards Jason Kendall
1995 Phil Garner Milwaukee Fighting with White Sox manager Terry Bevington
1995 Terry Bevington Chicago White Sox Fighting with Brewers manager Phil Garner
1992 Tom Lasorda LA Dodgers Renewing past game's argument
1989 Doc Edwards Cleveland Ripped up first base and threw helmet
1988 Frank Robinson Baltimore Mimicking umpire (put hands on hips)
1986 Gene Michael Chicago Cubs Turning ump's cap around during argument
1980 Bobby Cox Atlanta Spitting in ump's face during argument
1980 Dave Bristol San Francisco Demanding lights be turned on
1979 Pat Corrales Texas Length of mound meeting
1941 Frankie Frisch Pittsburgh Bringing umbrella to protest weather
1937 Burleigh Grimes Brooklyn Profanity and abuse arguing ball/strike
1935 Charlie Dressen Cincinnati Trying to punch opposing pitcher
1914 John McGraw NY Giants Told Eason he should wear glasses
1897 Cap Anson Chicago White Stockings (Cubs) Fair/foul call (Called umpire a liar)

This last table is my attempt to quantify the reasons for the approximately 5,000 ejections:

Reason Ejections
Calls on base 1342
1B 533
2B 327
3B 196
Home 286
Balls and strikes 1335
Interference 198
Balk 193
Fair/foul call 174
Checked swing 161
Bench jockeying 117
Disputed catch 100

Automation could eliminate many of these reasons, such as pitch calls and most calls on bases. It's not listed, but there were 29 ejections due to disputed home run calls, which also could be eliminated quite easily.

There are many quirks in baseball not present in other sports, such as the lack of a clock, a fixed manner in which offensive players are used and the latitude allowed to argue almost anything. Every time a manager walks on the field to argue a call he adds time to games that are already pushing three hours. It's far too early to tell, but instant replay will have an effect on ejections, but it can go either way. Perhaps the ability to review will lower an umpire's tolerance for "discussion" of the call and lead to more ejections. Likewise, perhaps the ability of managers to have someone telling them whether to argue a call or not could decrease arguments.

There was other information in the data -- in addition to the reason for a manager's ejection, the umpire was included as well. I'll return to that topic in the future, since there has been an incredible shift in ejections over time. This graph gives a clue and shows the percentage of games in which a manager was ejected since 1901:

Manager_ejections_4

Every ejection requires two participants, a manager and an umpire. When I return to the topic, I'll review this data from the standpoint of the umpires.

All data from Retrosheet. Any errors in compiling the data are the author's.

Scott Lindholm lives in Davenport, IA and is now headed out to the golf course despite being a terrible golfer. Follow him on Twitter @ScottLindholm.

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