Baseball managers are weird. They wear the same uniforms as their players. They usually don’t say much. Some would say they don’t get enough credit.
Baseball managers make decisions during the game that can flip the contest. Like pull a pitcher, or make a pinch-hit substitution. Their decisions in game are what matter most in their job. But, the wrong decision can cost them a game.
These decisions are what we use as a barometer to judge a manager’s performance. We can also use analogies to judge a managers’ performance, or at least simulate an in-game decision.
That analogy is my school district’s grading system. Yup, you probably just shook your head.
My school’s grading system works like this: There’s summative and formative assignments. Formative assignments are things like classwork, homework, quizzes…. AKA the little things. They account for 20% of your total grade. Summative assignments are things like tests, projects, and bigger assignments. That makes up 80% of your total grade. Bottom line: Study for your tests.
Before I go any farther, let me say a couple things. I’m not insulting the grading system. I’m simply using it in analogy to try and prove it’s faults. I’m not completely opposed to this certain grading system, but I do believe it needs work. It’s nothing like I’ve ever had before, and that says a lot coming from someone who’s been educated in four different states. Putting 80% of a kid’s grade on a single chapter test seems like too much, especially since we’re only sophomores in high school. Anyone can have a bad day; I’ve had bad days before, where I bomb a test or something. It happens to everyone, and when it does, it’s wrong to tank a grade because of it.
Back to the baseball end of this, managers’ in-game decisions can sway a game, kinda like how a summative assignment can swing a grade majorly. Here’s an example:
There’s two men on base. Two outs, bottom 8th, the home team is down 6-5. They want to close it out in the top of the 9th. The away team’s pitcher has blown a big lead. The manager is contemplating what to do. From here, there’s two scenarios:
- He leaves the pitcher in. The pitcher then gives up a bases clearing double and it’s 7-6. The pitcher then comes out.
- He pulls the pitcher, and puts a bullpen guy in. The reliever gets them out of it.
In No.1, this could be blamed on the manager or pitcher. Had the manager pulled him, the double was less likely to occur. The pitcher still gave up the hit, but numbers would say pull him, especially after what he’s already given up. In that case, it’s the manager’s fault.
So how does this compare to a grading system? Well, if the manager is a student, then an ill-fated decision/assignment can cost you.
A student has a big, summative test. They study and study. They sits down to take the test. It’s Friday.
Monday. The test comes back. D.
Since this was a summative assignment, that D accounts for 80% of his grade, which pretty much drops their grade to a D. And that student is screwed.
Because once you blow the lead, you’ve got one inning to gain it back, and chances are you won’t.
Same with this test. Once you’re in a hole, with your grade at a D, it’s very hard to get back. You can’t do extra credit to raise it, because those assignments are a mere 20% of your grade.
And say you ace your next test. It’ll bring it up, but not much.
That’s the next example: Making a right decision when you’ve already gotten yourself in a hole.
Take the same manager. After not pulling the pitcher, he makes a move, putting in a pinch-hitter for a struggling player in the top of the 9th.
That pinch-hitter gets on base, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. That’s a successful at-bat.
But do we credit the manager much for making that move? Stats would say that’s a great move by the manager, as the struggling player had a less likely chance of getting on base (it’s really common sense). But, managers don’t get credit for moves like that. It’s not their problem, it’s the media’s. The media doesn’t make a big deal out of a manger’s right decision, but does make a big deal out of a manger’s wrong decision.
The media revolves around things that are great and things that are terrible. A manager’s correct decision doesn’t get much media attention, because it’s not either of those, it was, well, just solid. Part of it is the lack of baseball coverage, and, for lack of a better explanation, most people just don’t care enough about that decision. It’s only people who really love the game that care.
Back to the analogy, the manager’s right decision doesn’t give him true credit, since no one really notices. Say you ace your next test after that dud of one. Guess what! You’re still screwed. It’s set up so that once you’re in a hole, you can’t get out. It’s very, very hard to regain that what you once had. Just like in baseball, it can be hard to come back, especially after blowing a big lead.
I think the 80%/20% system is rigged in a certain direction. It’s basically 20% positive, 80% negative, when it comes to summative assignments. A high grade on a summative assignment could raise it 20%, but a bad grade could drop it 80%.
Manager’s value to a team vary, based on their in-game decisions. There’s no real way to prove a manager’s true value. It varies, depending on when they screw up. It’s like the grading system. You’re grade depends on when you screw up, and when you do, there’s nothing to save you. Something’s wrong with that.
This column was written by Hunter, and express his and only his views. The scenarios presented are based of his own experiences, and don’t account for anyone else, who may not care as much as he does about a grade. Hunter hopes this column will change the outlook on his school’s grading.