I was flipping through The Bill James Handbook 2010 the other day and got to wondering about Bud Black’s managerial tendencies. Now that Black has three years under his belt, maybe we can start to make meaningful assertions about his style in the dugout.
James evaluates managers according to several different factors — adherence to a set lineup, platoon tendencies, substitution patterns, pitcher usage, tactics, etc. According to the available data, most of Black’s game is fairly middle of the road.
A few of Black’s tendencies, however, lie at or near the edge. Given that he is a former big-league pitcher and pitching coach, perhaps it should come as no surprise that much of what he does to distinguish himself concerns the way he handles his staff.
Among other things, Black doesn’t let his starters stay in the game too long. As a rookie manager in 2007, he led the National League with 63 quick hooks. In 2009, he finished third, with 50.
Black also ranks near the bottom in slow hooks and long outings (LO; more than 110 pitches), which seems like a desirable trait for someone in charge of so many young arms. For grins, here’s how Black compares with two well-known veteran skippers in terms of pitcher usage:
Baker is notorious for working his pitchers hard, but check out former Padres manager Bochy. He led the NL in long outings in ’07 and ’08, dropping to second (behind Baker) last year. It would be interesting, and possibly a bit terrifying for Giants fans, to see how he has handled the talented youngsters Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum.
Closer to home, I’m glad someone with a more conservative approach will be guiding Mat Latos et al. in 2010. Among MLB managers, only Oakland’s Bob Geren had fewer long outings (5) under his watch than Black in 2009. Although I don’t believe in a fanatical devotion to pitch counts, I do favor caution with young arms. Knowing that Black seems to agree makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
There’s another aspect of Black’s managerial style worth discussing, but we’ll save that for some future date. Until then, watch out for that hook…