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Traditional Managing Index Results: 2011 AL

Earlier this year, I introduced the Traditional Managing Index (TMI), which uses two common managerial decisions--sacrifice bunts and intentional walks--to determine how "old school" a manager's style is.

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 Bob Geren and Bob Melvin of the A's), 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.

Because the TMI results for AL managers differed quite a bit from those of NL managers, I'm splitting them into two groups. The graphic below shows the results for AL managers. I'll post the NL results next week.


Here are a few of my observations about these results:

  • Guillen topping the list is no surprise; aside from his well-known proclivity for the bunt, he also led the AL in the midseason tally. His results are only pro-rated a bit, since he managed 160 of the White Sox's 162 games. He actually had 48 sac bunts (2nd-most in the AL) and 48 intentional walks (most in the AL).
  • In fact, the top 5 from the midseason list are in basically the same order (if you count ties) on this list. Overall, there was very little movement from midseason to end-of-season. That's a sign that perhaps "traditionalness" as measured by TMI is a relatively stable attribute.
  • It is a bit surprising, perhaps, to see Joe Maddon of the Rays rate as slightly more traditional than average (though he was near average in the midseason TMI list, too). He has a reputation for thinking outside the box, and while that may be a deserved reputation on the whole, he isn't breaking new ground when it comes to bunts and intentional walks.
  • Terry Francona (formerly of the Red Sox) had the lowest TMI by far. He issued only 11 intentional walks in 162 games, easily the fewest among AL managers who were with their teams all season. (Bob Melvin only issued 9 IBBs, but he managed just 99 games.) Francona's 22 sac bunts also tied with Buck Showalter of the Orioles for the fewest in the AL among full-season managers.
  • Speaking of Showalter, he was quite idiosyncratic. He had 20 more IBBs than SHs, by far the biggest pro-walk differential in the AL. His 42 IBBs were actually tied for 2nd-most in the AL, but his 22 SHs, as mentioned above, tied for the fewest.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Bob Melvin of the A's had more than twice as many sac bunts (19) as intentional walks (9). In a full season, that would amount to about 16 more bunts than walks. Among full-season managers, Ron Washington of the Rangers had the biggest pro-bunt split, with 35 bunts and 21 walks.
  • Melvin's predecessor, Bob Geren, was a bit more traditional. In 63 games, his A's players put down 11 bunts and issued 15 intentional walks. That works out to around 28 SHs (a bit below average) and about 39 IBBs (a bit above average) in a full season.
  • Overall, the AL averaged about the same number of sac bunts as intentional walks. As you'll see next week, however, the NL was quite different.

What do you think? Were any of these rankings a big surprise to you?

* 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.