Rating Robin: Spring Training (Part 1)

Realistically I could have called this "Rating Robin on the Right Rail" but RRRR is already taken.

This season I'm interested in only one thing, how is Robin doing as a Manager. I (and everyone else outside of 35th and Shields) don't know what kind of Manager Robin will be. Will he hit and run more than Ozzie? Will he sacrifice bunt a lot? Does he think this team can have 3 guys steal 40 bases a year? Will his staff a longer green light than Jeff Cox at 3rd? Will Jim Leyland, Joe Maddon and Mike Scioscia eat Robin's lunch routinely causing the Sox to lose a ton of close games? Hell, will the Pale Hose even play well enough for Robin's coaching to come into question? Hopefully these questions will be answered in the next 162 games, and we won't be reading headlines like "Robin Ventura Fired" because that will make me sad, and it will make me question Kenny's decision making and Jerry's mental capacity, 2 things I don't want to do.

Spring Training really isn't the place to tell how the season is going, but right now it's the only managing that Robin has done at the professional level (or even the amateur level) and it's what we can judge. Before we look at this season's stats, let's look at what "he-who-must-not-be-named-by-Joe-Cowley's-twitter" did in his previous 8 seasons.

1. Stolen Bases

In the 8 years under Ozzie, the Sox ranked 5th in Stolen Base attempts, with 149.1 attempts a year. Even though they were aided with speedsters like Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik, they were 10th in Stolen Bases and dead last in Stolen Base Percentage. So they stole when they didn't have the players to steal... Per year they averaged 17 more steals attempts than the league average and 4.1 more steals than the league average.

I knew Ozzie liked to steal, but I didn't realize they were so bad at it.

2. Sacrifice Bunts

Before I looked at the numbers, I thought there were times that the Sox should have bunted more often to move runners over and instead they choose to swing away and hit into double plays. After I looked at the numbers I saw that they were average in terms of sac bunts per season, at 47.5 per year (league average was 53.9 and Colorado led the league with 79.3). So I looked at Grounded into Double Plays, and saw the Sox were above average (10th overall), but not as far above as I expected (Sox: 133.4; MLB avg: 127.3; Leader- MIN: 145.0).

2 minutes later I went "durrrr, the NL bunts like 5 times a game because of Pitchers". Looking at the sac bunt leaders, there are 0 AL teams above "league average". The Sox are 3rd among AL teams in sac bunts and 13 bunts per season higher than the AL average. That personally shocked me, but Ozzieball loved the NL game. (Side note: he's going to be a great NL manager, I always thought that.)

3. Intentional Walks given

In my mind, the NL West and NL Central will lead this category, because of Bonds and Pujols. Interestingly the division I couldn't name the "big time slugger" has the top 3 slots (Atl, Was/Mon, Fla/Mia). The Sox, being one to be average in terms of handing out the free pass, was indeed average. They gave out 44.8 a year, 1.9 IBBs a year more than average. Not surprising to sabre-nerds, myself included, Boston handed out the fewest freebies, with only 24.8 a year (Atlanta gave out 70.6)

4. Games over the Pythag Record

Bill James considers how many games better or worse you are over your Pythag record how lucky your team is. Personally I consider it how well their manager did in the toss up games and this is why I consider Ozzie one of the better managers of the last decade. Over his time, they were the 5th best in terms of games over the Pythag record averaging 1.89 wins better than their Pythag record.

These 4 are a good way to look back at how the team's manager chose to coach his team. I want to take a look at individual moves, individual games and a week-by-week basis and it's completely unfair to look at these 4 stats for even a single season. And realistically I can see the pitching stats staying basically the same since Coop has had free reign over the staff.

So far we're exactly half-way through Spring Training and Ventura has had 15 games to manage (plus one split squad game that his staff has managed). I've been able to watch one game, and seen nothing of major significance in terms of managing decisions. I have noticed that Robin is stealing a lot, but it's the spring, and these games people are going steal more often. He's sac bunted 3 times over the 16 games, which is well below any sort of average (all sacrifices are down in games featuring the White Sox). Honestly there's no statistics or analysis for this post, I just wanted to point out that I was planning on doing this once a week (maybe twice a month, depending on my schedule) and if I'm watching the games live, then I'll be pointing some of the stuff I'm looking for in the GDT and get your take on it.

Is there anything you want to see from this? Does this sound interesting to you? Do the stats from the last 8 years surprise you?

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