MLB: Rating the front offices of the NL Central

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 28: Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs at a press conference introducing David Ross as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 28: Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs at a press conference introducing David Ross as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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St Louis Cardinals
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NL Central front offices had some of the worst seasons in all of MLB in 2020

As their teams demonstrated in going 1-8 during the post-season, NL Central front offices collectively compiled the worst performance of any division during 2020.

Four of the five front offices hurt their teams – by margins of at least 3.9 games – in their personnel decisions. Only Chicago’s tandem of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer improved their team’s talent base, and then only marginally.

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Strikingly, the division’s other four front offices ranked 12th through 15th in the National League in their impacts on their teams. For MLB as a whole, they occupied four of the bottom six positions.

Our MLB front office ratings are based on the collective short-term impact, as measured by Wins Above Average, of every personnel move made by every front office since the conclusion of play in 2019. A positive number represents a front office’s success. In a few cases, those marked by an asterisk, the front office really succeeded; it generated a more positive impact than the margin by which the team qualified for post-season play.

If a rating is negative, that means the team’s front office reduced the club’s talent base during 2020. And woe betides a front office that gets an asterisk for negative performance; that means the team’s execs dealt, promoted or signed their way out of the playoffs. Those rare instances are marked by an X.

As a general proposition, front offices influence their team’s performance in five ways:

  • By the players they acquire in trades, purchase or waiver claims with other teams.
  • By the players they lose in those deals.
  • By the free agents they sign.
  • By the players they release or lose to free agency.
  • By the rookies they promote.

Findings for the AL East, NL East, and AL Central have already been reported. This analysis of the NL Central front offices is not based on final standing, but rather on the extent of the front office’s positive or negative contribution to the team profile.