Word on the street is that Sandy and the gang prefer a manager with prior big league experience. Like any true sabermetrician, I decided to test that whether experience managing matters. I took a look at every manager in the divisional era (post-1969) who had managed more than 800 games (about 5 seasons) with more than one managerial job to see if their winning percentage improved with experience. I think the results may surprise:
|Manager||Job 1 Winning %||After Job 1 Winning %|
|Jim LeFebrve||.479||.500 (not including interim)|
The surprising answer: generally speaking, managers who had win percentages below .500 in job one, tend to improve subsequently. Managers who succeed in their first job, tend to fall off in subsequent positions.Why might this be? I think the answer is that a manager who gets fired from a team where he has been successful is probably getting fired because that team has information that the manager isn’t really that special. The next team who hires that manager is more likely than not hiring the track record, not the individual. In turn, that tells us something broader about the decision-making abilities of the organization writ large. By contrast, a manager who struggles in their first job, but still gets additional positions has probably impressed those outside his initial organization in some way that convinces the organization that the manager could do a good job if given the right mix of players. That too tells us something about how that
organization makes decisions.What is the something we learn about organizational decision-making? Namely, that better organizations evaluate skills and fit, not just past performance. It’s like mutual fund prospectuses (and trial lawyer ads in New York) say, past performance is no guarantee of future results.So, what does our (admittedly unscientific) study of managers tell us about who the Mets should hire next? Well, if they are going to hire a manager with experience, better to hire one with experience losing
. Of the current candidates, Clint Hurdle and Bob Melvin fit the bill nicely, but fans might be wary of Terry Collins—he managed to a .532 winning percentage in Houston, but only a .481 in Anaheim.