Friday, June 02, 2006

Allard Baird, We Hardly Knew Ye

In "honor" of Allard Baird's not-so-sweet ride off into the sunset, here are the worst winning percentages by a general manager, since 1960 (minimum 3 seasons):

Name W L WP
Peter Bavasi 318 491 .393
Pat Friday 322 487 .398
Allard Baird 324 486 .400
Chuck LaMar 518 775 .401
Bobby Cox 323 481 .402

Bavasi was GM for the Padres in the mid-70s, Friday was with the Kansas City A's. Cox knew when to get out of that job and get back on the field, apparantly. With Baird gone, LaMar again regains the lead in the race for worst current GM (although if he suckers the Mets a few more times, he might lose that spot again).

The best:

Name W L WP
Brian Cashman 794 498 .615
Theo Epstein
288 198 .593
John Schuerholz 2185 1633 .572
Bob Watson 330 253 .566
Billy Beane 732 563 .565

Now, looking at winning percentage in mid-career for GMs is like looking at ERAs for pitchers in mid-career - it doesn't include the decline phase. Presumably, GMs abilities don't really decline all that much as they get older, but it's certainly true that GMs tend to stick around as long as they're winning. Eventually, Cashman, Epstein, Schuerholz and Beane will (probably) stop winning, and at that point, they'll get fired and their career winning percentages will be lower. Still, it's pretty impressive that four of the five are current GMs (at Watson spent half his time with the mid-90s Yankees). Billy Beane in particular, given the amount of money he's had to work with, comes out looking really good here.

Finally, the leaders since 1960 in WAB (Wins Above Baird) - the most wins by a GM over what a .400 level GM (Baird) would have gotten in the same number of games:

John Schuerholz 2185 1633 .572 657
Harry Dalton 2175 1965 .525 519
Pat Gillick 2010 1773 .531 497
Al Campanis 1649 1369 .546 442
Bob Howsam 1448 1134 .561 415

I realized how little I know about GMs when I saw this list - I know the guys in the Hall of Fame, but that's about it. Dalton was GM for three teams - the late 60s/early 70s Orioles (one of the great all-time teams), the mid-70s Angels, and the 80s Brewers. I was surprised to see Gillick so high on any GM list, but his career as a GM was longer than I thought, and that 116 win season certainly helped.

Campanis was the GM for the Dodgers for most of the 70s and 80s, while Howsam was GM for the Cardinals for a couple of years before heading up the Reds that would eventually turn into the Big Red Machine.

These stats don't mean everything, of course. Much of the GMs' work - the draft, signing international free agents, managing the minor leagues and scouts - doesn't really bear fruit for years, so often some (or much) of the credit for a good team shouldn't go to the current GM but to whoever was GM a few years back. For guys like Schuerholz, of course, the GM "a few years back" is the same guy. It's hard to imagine a GM with more of a lock on the Hall of Fame than Schuerholz.


Ross said...

While Beane might look good in that top 5 when you look at payrolls, it should also be noted that the other four all have at least one World Series ring to go with the winning percentage.

Beane hasn't won a pennant.

Beane hasn't won a division series.

Sully said...

LaMar was fired when the D-Rays changed ownership in the off-season; he's not active anymore. The Royals should have canned Baird before he passed LaMar - at least let the man go out with some dignity...