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Evaluating Baseball's Managers: A History and Analysis of Performance in the Major Leagues, 1876-2008 Paperback – January 4, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Way back in the 20th century, Bill James wrote the first essential book about baseball managers. Chris Jaffe has just written the second." --Rob Neyer, ESPN.com

"These days it's tough to find an important aspect of baseball that hasn't been studied and analyzed a hundred different ways, but Chris Jaffe has done just that with a unique, compelling look at the men who run thing on the field. . . . This book is for you, whether you like hardcore numbers crunching and objective analysis or biographical sketches and interesting anecdotes." --Aaron Gleeman, writer, NBCsports.com

"I can think of no work on managers that as effectively and completely evaluates the men in the dugout. It is a leap forward in our understanding of these hardball leaders.… From now on, whenever I have a question about a manager, Jaffe's book will be the first and last one I reach for." --Sean Forman, founder of Baseball-Reference.com

"One of the best baseball books I've read in a long time, a serious effort by a good writer with a love of history and stats and a fascinating subject that hasn't been studied much." --Big League Stew blog

"I can think of no work on managers that as effectively and completely evaluates the men in the dugout. It is a leap forward in our understanding of these hardball leaders.… From now on, whenever I have a question about a manager, Jaffe's book will be the first and last one I reach for." --Sean Forman, founder of Baseball-Reference.com

About the Author

Chris Jaffe is an instructor of history and a columnist for the The Hardball Times. He lives in Schaumburg, Illinois.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 333 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (January 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786439203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786439201
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.9 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #804,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Weddell on August 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
If the title of the book appeals to you, you're going to love this book. I did.

In the book's first part, lasting 62 pages, Chris Jaffe derives three metrics for both evaluating and describing managers' performances. These are expanded versions of articles that originally appeared on various baseball analytical websites. For the key metric, Jaffe examines five aspects of team seasonal performance above or below expectations shaped by the team's surrounding seasons. If a manager has a sufficiently long track record, Jaffe assumes that the performance above or below expectations is due to the manager and not randomness, luck, or other influences. Obviously, that's an artificial assumption as Jaffe recognizes, but it is the best attempt at trying to both quantify a manager's value and describe what he does well that I've seen. There are definitely problems with the metric, most notably that managers blessed with strong talent tend to do well, but it's a start.

That first section can be a bit dry, so if you're impatient, feel free to skip chapter 3.

The last 70% of the book is the payoff. There are mini-chapters on every manager with a moderately long major league career applying Jaffe's metrics and describing what the manager does well. This material is just terrific, with plenty of original observations. Jaffe's metrics give him an informed perspective that you won't read elsewhere. This portion of the book is not as quantitative and makes for better reading. The last two chapters, on current and recently-retired managers are the best portions of the book, so peek ahead to read a minichapter on one of your favorite recent managers to see if you'll like it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Weddell's review is excellent, I would add that for those of us that play baseball recreation games such as Strat-O-Matic, APBA or Diamond Mind this book has an even greater value in giving insights and understanding to historical replays. I was replaying the 1972 season and Ralph Houk's Yankees were making a run for the AL East title. I set up bullpen settings to mirror Houk's style of going with a single reliever long innings.
I would splurge for the hard copy. I went Kindle for price which is fine but it doesn't set up as well on the page and this is one of those books you are constantly want to flip back and look at a chapter or a manager. The metrics are excellent but I often got them confused and needed to remind myself which was which-again harder with the Kindle version. The history buff will love hearing about managers who time has forgotten and insights into why others may not be as great as history has portrayed them. The Leo Durocher chapter was very insightful as it reveals how his abilities dropped once he aged and moved onto the Cubs-his reckless lack of substitution burned his team out every second half.
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Format: Paperback
This is by far the best book written on baseball managers. It tries to quantify what makes a good manager good and succeeds at that. Instead of just dealing with in game tactical decisions, it' focus's on what happens before and after a manager arrives, how players play under that manager, indicating that the manager either has the ability to get the best out of his players, or knows how to motivate them to achieve their best. If you liked the New Bill James Historical Abstract, you would love this book in that it does feature snippets on pretty much every manager it mentions.
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Format: Paperback
The essays about each manager are poorly written and, after a while, make the book tiresome to read.
Since the information stops more than 5 years ago, a desire to know about current managers leaves you having to go elsewhere for information, thereby rendering the book useless unless you value the opinions of the author which are no different than the common wisdom about each manager.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Content was interesting, but difficult to read on my tablet. That may be more of an indictment of my hardware, but I still think you'd be happier with a hard copy.
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