Former MLB Players as Managers: What The Past Tells Us

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Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images /
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(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

Former MLB Players as Managers: What The Past Tells Us

With the hope of finding some sort of relationship between on-field and managerial performance, I ran multiple simple linear regression models. While no batting statistics seemed to relate, the pitching data produced some unexpected results.

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The r-squared value for the relationship between win-loss percentage and games played was a slightly significant .178, while the relationship between win-loss percentage and innings pitched was a similar .18. What was interesting, however, is that the were negative relationships, suggesting that longevity on the mound does not bode well for winning as a manager. This is likely a result of a very small sample size, so I wouldn’t put too much faith in this being true just yet.

What can be made of this, then? Well, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure. Frankly, there’s a lot of noise in this data – we see a massive span of success in both groups and in both career phases. This is something I hope to revisit in the future with more data or more statistics, or perhaps its something an inspired individual can run with to uncover some interesting conclusions.

As it pertains to the current managerial candidates, a fun exercise is to look to see how those that are former MLB players stack up in terms of on-field statistics. Obviously, Beltran was the best of the bunch, as the potential Hall of Fame outfielder hit 435 home runs while cementing his status as a postseason legend.

However, those with statistics that most closely resemble our sample groups are David Ross, Gabe Kapler, Rod Barajas, Mark Kotsay, and Skip Schumaker. This subgroup seems to fit a mold, as despite not being the best player on their respective teams, each was considered a leading veteran presence in their clubhouse during their lengthy careers.

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Rather than look at how great these former MLB players were on the field, it seems as if teams should focus more so on their understanding of the game and their relationship skills, which are crucial for managers. Even if you’re just an average player, you can enjoy a long career if you’re skilled in those two areas. In fact, these may ultimately be the skills that turn former players into great managers.

Statistics from Baseball-Reference and the Sean Lahman Database.