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Jim Leyland: The Second-Worst Manager in Baseball?

Could the Detroit Tigers have one of the worst managers in baseball? According to a Wall Street Journal ranking, only one other is worse. The WSJ took 20 current major league managers who managed a full season before 2007 and ranked them based on the following three criteria:

[...] how their teams perform in close games when the manager's strategic decisions have the most impact, how many games their teams win compared to how many runs they score and allow (a formula known as Pythagorean wins) and whether they get more out of players than other managers, measured by additional games won per season [...]

Based on close games, wins above expectation, and player performance, the Tigers' Jim Leyland is 19th out of the 20 managers listed. Only the Rockies' Clint Hurdle is worse.

Leyland's worst ranking is in the Close Games category, in which you would think a manager most earns his reputation and paycheck. There, he ranks dead last. (Or first, depending on how you look at the list.)

I'm not going to pretend I completely understand all of this. (But maybe that's because it's Friday, and it's been a long week.) My first thought was that Leyland's pre-Tigers career greatly skewed these rankings. Before coming to Detroit, he had a winning record in five of his 14 seasons and a winning percentage of .486. But for two of the three categories (Close Games and Wins Above Expectation), only data from the past five seasons was used. Since Leyland was out of baseball from 1999 to 2006, his past obviously isn't a factor. But the poor performance of the Tigers' bullpen last season would be. And formulas aside, I think we all expected Detroit to win more games in 2007.

The manager who gets the closest scrutiny from the WSJ is Joe Torre, the subject of an article trying to determine whether or not he's worth the $13 million the Los Angeles Dodgers will pay him over the next three years.

Have at this one, people. What do you think? Looking at numbers and decimal points for prolonged periods of time tend to make my head hurt. (I should have a great future with this baseball blogging thing, eh?) Others with clearer heads and analytical minds might do better with this stuff. I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty more on this throughout the baseball blogosphere.

(via The Phillies Zone)