The Nationals hired Dusty Baker to be their next manager, replacing the remarkably incompetent Matt Williams.

Baker is known as a leader and not necessarily a great strategist.

Ned Yost, the manager of the champion Royals, is known as a leader and not necessarily a great strategist.

Paul Molitor, who has a chance to be the American League manager of the year, is a leader who I think made sensible strategic decisions but often second-guessed himself after games. important is baseball strategy?

I think we can all agree that handling a pitching staff is important. A manager needs to get the most out of his rotation and use his key relievers in a way that gives them the best chance of staying fresh and healthy.

Yost makes me crazy with some of his offensive strategies, like bunting with middle-of-the-order hitters early in games. Baker tends to over-use his pitchers. But both have won big.

In the age of advanced statistical analysis, I think we parse too many in-game decisions. Bunting in the third inning is probably a bad idea, but it may reduce the chances of scoring by a very small fraction.

But if a manager loses his clubhouse, loses touch with team leaders or looks weak, he's doomed.

I think that's why so many former players without managerial experience are being hired, and why Yost and Baker keep getting jobs. Leadership may be more important over the long, highly-scrutinized season than whether or not you attempt a steal in the first inning.

But let me be clear: You still shouldn't bunt in the third inning.


New at MalePatternPodcasts: My chat with Alan Page, Russo on hockey, Smalley on baseball, Krawczynski on hoops, Yotter on football, plus my old interviews with Matt Birk, Torii Hunter, Eddie Guardado.


Older Post

Souhan blog: Quick slants on Vikings-Bears

Newer Post

Souhan: Don't use replays for football's missed penalties