Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Baseball Managers and Probability

I recently got into a discussion with my friend on whether the Brewers decision of firing their manager 2 weeks before the end of the season will be beneficial for them.

Here is my commentary....

I think the effect it brings is very negligible, and is over analyzed by the media. Often, managers are fired during slumps when the team is getting unlucky and playing at a short-term record below their pyth. record based on runs scored and overall record. However, when the sample size increases they will play at a level closer to their talent level (possibly around .550 for the brewers). The brewers were "due" to lose, and they are not "due to win in the future" though. For the next two weeks, the brewers are most likely going to perform better than they have been in the previous 2 weeks. This should be based off their season's worth of data and talent level. Analysts like John Kruk and maybe even brewers players will base this off the manager change - when there really isn't much evidence pointing to that.

Lets say Carlos flips a fair coin and he gets a bunch of tails (loses) in a row. Carlos is fired and is replaced by the fresh and upcoming Ryan. Ryan flips closer to the 50/50 rate. Sports analysts would say Ryan turned things around. It's the same thing in baseball except it's not exactly 50/50, but rather maybe 55/45 for the brewers.

In my opinion the role of the baseball manager is vastly overrated. The decisions made by a manager could be made better by a computer. Players need a friend/leader to make sure they stay confident in themselves. Would hiring a psychologist or motivational speaker and using computer based analysis to make decisions be better than a "baseball guy"? Maybe...

So my prediction is that this move will "help" the brewers, but will technically bring little effect.

for further studies...
baseball prospectus

Edit @ 4:30pm - I know my computer manager thing isn't going to happen, but can we at least get a laptop or two in clubhouse?

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