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.

So...how 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.

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