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Traditional Managing Index Results: 2011 NL

Last week, I revealed the results of the Traditional Managing Index for the American League. This week, I focus on the National League.

TMI is quite simple. Just take the number of sacrifice bunts laid down by position players and add it to the number of intentional walks issued by pitchers*. To make the totals comparable for all managers, including those who were with a team for only part of the season (like Edwin Rodriguez and Jack McKeon of the Marlins), I've pro-rated all of the totals to 162 games. The higher a manager's TMI, the more traditional his managing style was in 2011.

Here are the TMI results for the 18 NL managers to manage at least 50 games. One manager blows away the field.


Jack McKeon makes other old school managers look like kindergarteners. He's as far ahead of the 2nd-place manager, Fredi Gonzalez, as Gonzalez is ahead of the 10th-place manager, Dusty Baker, who has a below-average TMI.

More observations:

  • The man whom McKeon replaced, Edwin Rodriguez, also rated as very traditional, coming in 4th in the NL. And the man Rodriguez replaced last year, Fredi Gonzalez, ranks 2nd. Oh, and the man who will be replacing McKeon next year, Ozzie Guillen, led the AL in TMI. Of the 5 managers to post a TMI above 95 in 2011, four of them will have managed the Marlins between 2010 and 2012. Jeffrey Loria knows what he likes, I suppose.
  • McKeon's raw totals (not pro-rated) are 31 sac bunts and 42 intentional walks in 90 games. Only 7 NL managers had a higher unadjusted TMI, and all of those guys managed nearly twice as many games as McKeon. Rodriguez's raw totals were 14 sac bunts and 28 intentional walks in 71 games.
  • The other NL team to have split managers was the Nationals. Their first manager, Jim Riggleman, rated slightly more traditional than average. His raw totals were 16 sac bunts and 22 intentional walks in 75 games. Riggleman's eventual replacement, Davey Johnson, ranked as one of the least traditional managers in baseball. Johnson has just 13 sac bunts and 18 intentional walks in 83 games.
  • Thanks to the large number of intentional walks issued to #8 hitters (to get to the pitcher), NL managers averaged far more IBBs than their AL counterparts (almost 47, compared to just 33 in the AL). NL managers did call for slightly fewer sac bunts than AL managers, though (30 in the NL vs. 34 in the AL).
  • Only two NL managers had more sac bunts than intentional walks: Tony LaRussa and Ron Roenicke. (A third, Kirk Gibson, had an equal number of each.) LaRussa edged Roenicke in total bunts, 45 to 44, but Roenicke was the runaway winner in SH-to-IBB differential. Roenicke had a whopping 29 more sac bunts than IBBs; the average NL manager had 17 fewer bunts than walks.
  • Roenicke had the 2nd-most bunts in the NL behind LaRussa (3rd-most if you include McKeon's pro-rated total) but the fewest intentional walks.
  • On the flip side of Roenicke was Bud Black, whose 56 IBBs tied for the 3rd-most in the NL (5th-most if you count both Marlins managers' pro-rated numbers). Black, though, had only 15 sac bunts all year, the fewest in all of baseball.
  • Kirk Gibson of the Diamondbacks ranked as by far the least traditional manager in the NL. He had the 2nd-fewest sac bunts and the 2nd-fewest intentional walks, with 16 of each. I'll be very interested to see if these numbers continue as Gibson becomes more entrenched as a manager.

In the next few months, I'm hoping to go back into the past and see just how stable TMI is from year to year, especially for managers who switch teams. I'd also like to see if managers tend to get more traditional as they get older/have more experience. And of course, I'd like to see if my hunch that leaguewide TMI averages have been declining in recent years is correct.

Do you think TMI accurately represents the "traditionalness" of your favorite team's manager? Are there any other topics that you would like to see me research using TMI?

* I didn't count any plays that had a positive WPA (without an error by the opposing team); since the call to sac bunt or walk the batter increases a team's win probability in these cases, I'm assuming that any manager would have made the same decisions. These plays make up only a small portion of the data set: about 2% of the walks and 7% of the bunts.