Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

Grading Perlozzo

Posted by Mike on July 19, 2006

I try to stay away from seeming like I’m too big of a critic of Sam Perlozzo because, frankly, his job is not that important.  Unlike in football or basketball, baseball managers have very little effect on their team’s fortunes.

It’s been said before but the most important job for a manager is simply to control the clubhouse and command the respect of the team.  With superstars refusing to run out groundballs and such, it can be argued that Perlozzo is not at the head of the class, but I’d be reluctant to argue the opposite as well.  Sammy P. also did the birds a great service by bringing in, arguably, the best pitching coach in the history of baseball– his pal Leo Mazzone.  This is undoubtedly a strong positive, even if Mazzone magic hasn’t appeared as quickly as many had hoped.

Despite his positive attributes and despite the fact that such a thing is often inconsequential, I would argue that Sam Perlozzo is among the worst managers in baseball at optimizing his offensive attack. 

Why, you ask? 

Let’s see, there’s the decision to play Brandon Fahey in LF and bat him 2nd in the lineup.  Admittedly, Perlozzo had few attractive alternatives, but Fahey’s value is completely dependant on his above-average defense at shortstop.  On a team like the Orioles, where Ironmen shortstops reign supreme, Fahey should find it tough to crack the 40 man roster.  Instead, Perlozzo treats him like Carl Crawford. 

There’s also the matter of the Orioles leading the league in sacrifice bunts, a practice so rarely useful that I would advise Peter Angelos to institute a moratorium.  Take, for instance, last night’s game:

As you can see, Markakis walked to lead off the 9th inning.  Brian Roberts barely waited until he got to first to square around for the sacrifice to get Markakis to second base.  Predictably, Huston Street retired Brandon Fahey and Melvin mora and Markakis ended up stranded on 3B. 

The reason I included this WPA graph (hat tip to Fangraphs) is to demonstrate exactly how bad of an idea it was to have Brian Roberts sacrifice bunt.  You can see for yourself how the O’s chances of winning diminished by about 5%– and that’s after a successful sacrifice bunt.  Imagine if he failed.  And this is all without mentioning that Brian Roberts is one of the O’s best hitters.

Finally, Perlozzo could earn a few points with me if he would think a little more outside the box in terms of bullpen usage.  He has used Chris Ray for a few multi-inning save situations and, once again, he doesn’t have much to work with, so this isn’t as uninspiring as his offensive non-strategy.  Nevertheless, yesterday’s game provides another example of how the pen could be better deployed. 

Eddy Rodriguez pitched 2.1 innings after the rain delay mercifully ended the newest chapter of the Russ ortiz experiment.  Thanks to his own throwing error, Rodriguez ended up giving up 2 runs, 0 earned.  But I certainly wouldn’t argue that he wasn’t in a bit of a mess even before the error.  Anyway, his leverage index for the game came in at 1.44, much higher than any other O’s pitcher yesterday.  Had Perlozzo the gumption to recognize it was a critical situation and that Rodriguez was struggling (4 BB), perhaps it would’ve made sense to make a move to Britton or Hawkins earlier (See?  I stayed away from arguing that ray should be pitching in the 3rd inning.  Such self restraint). 

Ultimately, I see Perlozzo as a decidedly unskilled decision-maker.  I mean, can you imagine getting paid six figures to make a handful of decisions a day and consistently being this self-defeating?  Nevertheless, based on the merits of his access to Mazzone and the minimal impact of in-game decisions in general, I’ll give Perlozzo a grade C and pray that someone hands him a copy of this book


4 Responses to “Grading Perlozzo”

  1. Doug said

    I heard some jerk on ESPN radio talking about how its ridiculous that anyone question Perlozzo for having bRob bunt. Then I come here and see quantifiable proof that Perlozzo was wrong… Brilliant! Im going to email this to Tom Davis.

  2. cookinwithgas said

    Excellent analysis as always, Mike.

    WPA graphs are an excellent resource for the analysis of managerial decisions. Perlozzo should be required to review the WPA graph following each game (and I’m only half joking). In addition to book you mentioned, Mike, I would also require him to read The Book.

  3. Brother of Vajpayee said

    Where are the trades?

  4. […] Mike wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt […]

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