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November 20, 2012

Baseball ProGUESTus

The Value of Good Coaching

by C.J. Nitkowski

Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

C.J. Nitkowski has played baseball professionally for 19 years. A former no. 1 (ninth overall) draft pick out of St. John's University (NY) in 1994, he spent parts of 10 seasons in the major leagues with eight different clubs. In 2012 he played in the New York Mets’ minor-league system, where he was attempting to make a comeback as a left-handed sidearm pitcher. C.J. has also played in Japan and South Korea. He has been running his own website, CJBaseball.com, since 1997, and you can follow him on Twitter @CJNitkowskiRecently he played the role of Dutch Leonard in the movie 42, a major motion picture starring Harrison Ford and depicting Jackie Robinson's rookie season. The film is set to be released April 13th, 2013.


One thing that has always bewildered me about the sabermetric community, more specifically its members in the media, has been its general discounting of the value of coaching, especially at the major-league level.

I have read more times than I care to recount how little impact a manager can have on wins and losses, but that’s another topic for another day. What really befuddles me, though, is when a sabermetric scribe plays down the value coaches can have at the big-league level, with doubt about their usefulness dripping from every sarcastic word.

What I find most puzzling is that not only is it not true, but it comes from a source that could never understand what makes a good coach in professional baseball without guessing. Those opinions on MLB coaches are about as valid as mine on ballet instructors.

Like most players, I was slow to come around to advanced statistics. I remember getting emails from seamheads 10-12 years ago, during my career, discussing the importance of things like on-base percentage over batting average. I was bored by the discussion and quickly dismissed what I viewed as radical, illogical thinking. These fans would get very frustrated with me when I discounted their analysis. I remember one guy in particular who would ask me questions and my opinions on things around the league and then snap back at me because my answers didn’t line up with his sabermetrics-based philosophies. It got a little too intense for my taste, and I eventually stopped reading his emails.

Over time I began to listen, paid closer attention, and came around on some sabermetric thinking. I’m not all in, but I see the value in a lot of it. And as recent history has shown us, there is absolutely a place for stat nerds in baseball, a complementary piece in this great game of ours.

Now before you get all up in arms about me dropping the nerd bomb on you, know that I have been viewed as a nerd myself (although if there were a nerd ranking system, I’m sure I would fall somewhere near the bottom). I was discussing with a former teammate of mine who now scouts in the AL the direction in which baseball is going with scouting, advanced statistics, and player analysis. At one point he remarked, “Scouting is something you should consider—the job has gone in a nerdy direction, and you would be a good fit for it.” He asked me not to be offended by the statement, and I wasn’t, but I think you get the point.

So just as players would be wise to stop, listen, and learn a little about advanced statistical analysis before dismissing it so ignorantly, so would sabermetricians be wise to take the time to understand the value of good coaches in MLB.

Why do some prominent sabermetricians in the media dismiss the value of MLB coaching? My best guess has always been that it’s because you can’t really quantify what a coach or manager does for a team. And since you can’t quantify that impact, the thinking goes, it must be minimal or non-existent.

There could be other reasons. It could be because the person had an awful Little League or high school coach experience along the way. I do some amateur coaching now, and those guys certainly exist. Or maybe they had an encounter with a professional coach that didn’t go very well. I’m not sure what the reason is, but there has to be something driving these poorly thought out ideals.

This column not meant to be an “I played and you didn’t” snide remark, but I just don’t think it is possible to really relate to the value of good coaching unless you’ve played this game, especially in the professional ranks.

In the minor leagues you play 144 games plus spring training, maybe playoffs, and possibly instructional league. In the major leagues it is 162 games plus spring and, if you’re lucky, playoffs. The seasons are a grind, both mentally and physically.

By my count, I have played for 39 different managers in four countries over a pro career that started in 1994. I’ve seen many different types of managers and many different types of coaches. There have been great ones and terrible ones, but most of them fall somewhere in the upper-middle section of the spectrum. Major- and minor-league baseball players are fortunate enough to be around some really good coaches.

Coaches and managers take on different roles depending on the level of competition. In the minor leagues, especially at the lower levels, coaching is about instruction. At Triple-A, instruction is still important, but most of the players have been around, and coaching becomes more about tweaking. The real focus is on prepping for the big leagues and trying to put each of your players in line for a promotion should a need arise with the parent club.

Major-league coaches, though, have a somewhat different task compared to their minor-league counterparts. Their jobs are important and have great value to players.

Personality, while an added benefit, is not always necessary. Certainly you would prefer to have a coach you get along with and who’s a good guy, but it is not essential. I have worked with coaches who don’t have the greatest personalities but do know their baseball. In these situations you take them for what they’re worth and make the best of it. You can’t let your season or your career get off track because you don’t like your pitching or hitting coach.

For me, there are three key components to a good coach: knowledge, commitment, and an ability to communicate and relate. Notice that I did not say big-league playing experience or success. Experience is another added benefit, and most major-league coaches have it to varying degrees. However, success in the game does not always translate into an ability to be a good coach.

You have probably heard it said that the greatest players don’t always make the greatest coaches. That is true in many cases. Some players who have reached the pinnacle of the game don’t always know how to teach it, and they struggle to relate to players who are not as good as they were. They get easily frustrated by those players’ failures and inability to adjust as easily as they did. Most of the best coaches were middle-of-the-road players who had to study, grind, and work hard to stay in the game. Some great players have become good coaches, but I believe they are the exception as opposed to the norm.

Knowledge is Key
You can’t fake your way through being a good coach. Understanding mechanics and having an ability to pick up on flaws is crucial for any coach. As a player, if you’re not careful it is easy to pick up a bad habit in your delivery or swing over the course of a season that can have a big impact on your performance. You may begin to struggle and not realize why.

Most major-league pitchers and hitters know their mechanics inside and out and can quickly adjust on their own when something isn’t right. That is part of what makes them major leaguers. There are times, though, when they don’t. It is then that the coach plays a vital role. If you can’t adjust quickly enough, or your coach can’t help you adjust quickly enough, your performance begins to suffer. You hit a slump and might find yourself demoted to the bench, the bullpen, or even worse, the minor leagues.

A coach has to have extensive knowledge of hitting and pitching mechanic, and almost all of them do. They must know keys points in each player’s swing and delivery and stay focused on those throughout the season to help players avoid prolonged struggles.

Commitment to Your Job and Your Players
Being committed to your pitching staff or your hitters is a big part of the successful coach’s job. The season is long for everyone, and it is easy to get lazy, especially on a losing team near the end of the year. A solid coach commits to his players from the first day of spring to the last day of the season. His commitment to be there for each and every guy is a must, and he can never stray from that.

I recently heard Eric Chavez being interviewed on MLB Network Radio and talking about Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long. He talked about out how Long was always available to the Yankee hitters. In the cage, the video room, or on the field for early batting practice, he was always around if guys ever needed him. Chavez said this because it was something that stuck out to him. He has played in the big leagues for 15 seasons, and his comments tell me he has had hitting coaches that didn’t always do it this way. I was with KLong in Triple-A Columbus in 2004, and it doesn’t surprise me that he is so well respected and appreciated by his players.

Preparing your players for opponents is another large part of the commitment of a coach. Learning opposing pitchers’ and hitters’ tendencies can greatly improve a player’s chances of success. It is part of the coach’s job to teach those tendencies, and some put more effort into it than others. Providing your players with scouting reports and video of opponents takes time and can be tedious. Not all players utilize this information, but it is necessary to make it available.

I think it’s worth noting the recent trend of teams adding a second hitting coach. The job of hitting coach, when done well, requires a major commitment. Hiring an extra set of eyes and hands to assist the main hitting coach is a smart move that ensures that players always have access to someone for extra work whenever they need it. If major-league hitting coaches didn’t have much value, teams wouldn’t be adding a second one.

Communication and an Ability to Relate
The final and most important piece of the coaching puzzle is an ability to communicate and relate to your players. Knowledge and commitment are almost givens at the big-league level, but communication is a different skill set, and not all do it well.

You can watch your players or study them on video all day long, but if you can’t communicate what you see, then your eyes and experiences become useless. A coach has to speak the language of his players and understand what makes sense to them and what doesn’t. Too often after players have become coaches or broadcasters they forget how hard it was to actually play this game.

Good coaches don’t forget, and they keep that in mind while trying to help their players with mechanical flaws or game plan struggles. This is where having a coach who has been there as a player or has been coaching a long time really helps. He’s either fixed those flaws in himself or has coached other players who have done it. Sharing those experiences with your players helps accelerate their development, allowing them to build a knowledge database of sorts and moving them more quickly through rough patches.

Each coach has his own unique way of teaching and communicating, and not every way works for every player. Knowing your guys inside and out takes time but in the long run benefits all involved. Some players need little talking to and prefer communication to be infrequent, short, and to the point. Other guys are more analytical, take time processing information, and like to talk through it with a coach. A good coach can adjust to either approach.

Pitchers especially can fall into these categories. Some starters prefer to be left alone on game day with little or no talking before and during a start. Others like to keep it loose, conversing before and during the game to stay relaxed and focused. Coaches need to know who is who and how to handle each player, giving him the best possible chance to succeed.

One hurdle a coach must get through is recognizing that every player will not like him and that he will not like every player. It can’t be taken personally, and it cannot get in the way of doing your job, for both parties involved.

I had a coach in Triple-A tell me one time that he gives his older players one chance. If he makes a suggestion for improvement and they’re not interested in it, then he is done with them for the year. I thought that was a terrible philosophy. Your players won’t agree with everything you say and might not take to all of your suggestions. You can’t take it personally. Your job is the same throughout the season for every player, and personal issues cannot get in the way. You have to be the same coach to the guy who takes your advice the least as you are to the guy who is your best student.

Turnover in the coaching field seems to be higher than ever. When a team fails, there is a tendency to have someone taking the fall, whether they deserve it or not. We never know all of what is going on behind the scenes, but more often than not, the blame should fall on the players. If a team doesn’t have good players, the losses can’t be pinned on a coach. If a coach knows the game and can meet all the criteria I mentioned above, a lousy-win-loss record cannot be his fault.

A great coach does not take a career .220 hitter and turn him into a batting champion in a season. It’s the little things that matter, the small adjustments he helps with throughout the season that keep major leaguers on track. It is the commitment to being there for his players every day and the conversations that keep those players mentally strong. The coach’s impact may seem small, but his value is not.

The name of this game is consistency. Once you get to the big leagues, the bulk of your game—your talent and your abilities—are already in place. From there, success is a matter of staying consistent and making adjustments. Good coaches help with that, doing their best to keep a player’s lows from being too low and lasting for too long. The good ones do everything they can to play their part in helping players bring their best to the field every game.

Knowledge combined with an attitude of service and an ability to relate to players defines a great coach. Players have their favorites and credit them with the some of the successes they have had in their careers. What coaches do cannot be quantified, which makes it very difficult for some to comprehend and appreciate their contributions, but the importance of a good coaching staff cannot be overstated.

Related Content:  Managers,  Managing,  Coaches,  Coaching

40 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Eddie Bajek

I think I was one of said emailers, haha.

Nov 20, 2012 04:32 AM
rating: 1
 
C.J. Nitkowski

It's possible Eddie, but I doubt if you were THEE one. That guy was miserable and would never end a post with "haha." Thanks for reading.

Nov 21, 2012 06:00 AM
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Sharky

Thanks for the perspective CJ.

Nov 20, 2012 04:46 AM
rating: 2
 
C.J. Nitkowski

Thanks Sharky, glad you liked it.

Nov 21, 2012 06:03 AM
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mikebuetow

I've been reading sites like BP for 10 years, and I'm honestly not sure I've ever seen a "sabermetric scribe" downplaying the value of big-league coaches.

Nov 20, 2012 05:58 AM
rating: 3
 
BillJohnson

I certainly have, and it didn't sit well with me. I think CJ pretty well nailed this one; thanks for writing it, big guy.

Nov 20, 2012 06:22 AM
rating: 2
 
Ric Size

Absolutely, Bill Johnson. Over & over on BP I see articles and reader's comments that characterize a coach's or manager's contribution as neglligible. Baseball is played by humans, and they are fallible. Therefore players need mentors just like the rest of us, and fans will have to live with the reality that this impact can't be fully measured with stats. We don't have to quantify everything to enjoy it.

Great article CJ, and thanks to BP for publishing it.

Nov 20, 2012 07:08 AM
rating: 1
 
mikebuetow

We've all certainly seen writings that point to incorrect strategy or tactics. But I've seen overwhelming writings here (and elsewhere) that support the notion that coaches can actually teach players how to play better. If I'm reading this piece correctly, it's the latter that the author is trying to support. No argument here.



Nov 20, 2012 07:28 AM
rating: 2
 
BillJohnson

100% fair. The existence of occasional (sometimes more than occasional) condescension toward coaching in articles favoring statistical analysis doesn't mean that the more thoughtful members of the sabermetric community don't Get It.

Nov 20, 2012 14:14 PM
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jdeich

I agree with CJ's point that the historical problem is that coaching has been difficult to quantify, and therefore people chose to focus on the problems they can analyze. That said, some people mistake "The effect is unknown." for "The effect is negligible."

Measuring the quality of a coaching staff (in aggregate) might be feasible now. One could assess a team of players relative to preseason projections such as PECOTA. Excellent coaching should produce a signal-- e.g., statistically improbable numbers of players excel at a particular aspect of the game.

To give an example, Davey Lopes is often cited as a model first base coach. Before he came to the Phillies in 2007, the team had 92:25 SB:CS. In 2007, they improved to 138:19. A good chunk of this improvement came from transforming how Shane Victorino played (4:3 SB:CS in 153 G in 2006, 37:4 in 131 G in 2007), but they also got significant contributions from unlikely sources (Carlos Ruiz stealing 6:0). The pattern persisted (136:25 in 2008, 119:28 in 2009, 108:21 in 2010) while Lopes was there, even as the Phillies got older as a team.

Lopes then went to the Dodgers, who went from 92:50 (2010) to 126:40 (2011) and 104:44 (2012, despite Matt Kemp's injuries). This isn't an exhaustive study, as it neglects the age and quality of the personnel, but it's suggestive of deeper exploration.

One would imagine that hitting and pitching coaches could be evaluated in similar fashion. If a new hitting coach arrives and multiple players tick upwards in their BB%, contact%, etc., that may be causative. PitchFx could look at a pitching coach change's impact on inputs (velocity, location, etc.) and outcomes (BB%, K%, etc.). If a new manager arrives and the entire team outperforms their 50% PECOTA projection, that suggests causation as well.

It will be a small signal amid noise, but there's little reason to think the impact of good coaching is still "unmeasurable" in 2012.

Nov 20, 2012 07:38 AM
rating: 6
 
jdeich

PS: One outcome would be figuring out if coaches are paid fairly. If Davey Lopes creates +2 wins worth of baserunning, he should be being paid like a +2 win player, or else another team (Hi, Pittsburgh!) should make him that offer.

Nov 20, 2012 07:42 AM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

As I recall, that kind of measurement was tried on Leo Mazzone after he went over to the Orioles. But, as I recall, he seemed to have little effect.

Nov 20, 2012 09:45 AM
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C.J. Nitkowski

I didn't realize that this thinking among "the scribes" was an uncommon as I believed it to be. Neyer said the same thing to me. I have seen it enough in articles that I jumped to the conclusion that it was a widely accepted theory. In that sense I made a mistake. Some definitely have said it, just maybe not as much as I perceived.

Nov 21, 2012 06:06 AM
rating: 3
 
ScottyB

I really appreciate this piece. However, I was hoping for actual examples of how CJ's performance at the major league level either rose or fell because of a specific coach.

Coaching is obviously important, but as most player's performance doesn't seem to fluctuate with coaching changes, it is harder to establish. CJ is in a great position to shed light on this.

Nov 20, 2012 06:38 AM
rating: 4
 
C.J. Nitkowski

I understand and agree. I forget the thirst that people have for true one on one accounts in this game (the reason I started cjbaseball.com to begin with). As I wrote this I was thinking of many good and bad examples over the years. I am hanging on by a thread and still trying to continue my career so I wouldn't want to throw any coach specifically under the bus but I could have cited some good examples along the way. Valid point.

Nov 21, 2012 06:09 AM
rating: 3
 
prs130

Reading the 'Sixth Tool' article a week or so ago made me think of coaching... I'm sure that ability to absorb instruction from [good] coaches is a major element of what we refer to as Make-Up. Actually having good coaches is probably another element of what we refer to as Make-Up, despite the fact that it's not actually a characteristic of the prospect, but the prospect's circumstances.

Nov 20, 2012 06:48 AM
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C.J. Nitkowski

Good stuff. Some players are terrible or uninterested in taking advice from coaches. They fizzle out unless they are so talented that they can get to the big leagues on talent alone. Then there are terrible teammates. Bad coaching professionally exists but unlikely enough to stall or ruin a good player's career.

Nov 21, 2012 06:11 AM
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BP staff member Russell A. Carleton
BP staff

This is officially required reading for anyone who considers her/himself to be a Sabermetrician.

Nov 20, 2012 06:55 AM
 
Nick J

It would be interesting for CJ to do a follow-up piece on the different coaching tactics he's experienced in the 4 countries he's played in. We often hear how training techniques differ in Japan, Korea, Dominican Republic, etc. Hearing from professionals that actually trained under those differing techniques would be really interesting.

Nov 20, 2012 12:17 PM
rating: 4
 
gweedoh565

yes, +lots

Nov 20, 2012 12:54 PM
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C.J. Nitkowski

How much time do you have? The coaching philosophies in Asia were so extremely different than I was accustomed to. Wild theories they had and they player psychology was ignored and considered a weakness.

Nov 21, 2012 07:45 AM
rating: 3
 
C.J. Nitkowski

Perhaps I can read it during the opening ceremonies at the next SABR convention.

Nov 21, 2012 06:12 AM
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Agent007

Coaching at all levels seems to me to be one of the game's inefficiencies. Or maybe unknowns. I have often wondered about how good coaches are at the lower levels, and how that could be measured. Do you base it on how many lower draft picks develop into major league potentials? Or on how quickly the top draft picks move through the system? Problem is, that also reflects on the team's talent evaluators (and how do you measure that?).

Nov 20, 2012 07:56 AM
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C.J. Nitkowski

I think there are too many variables to try and do this. My head starts to spin at the 2 variable mark.

Nov 21, 2012 06:14 AM
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Richard Bergstrom

I'm glad C.J. took some time to write since I've bee a distant fan of him for awhile.

However, I do quibble with the idea that sabremetricians can't have an opinion on coaching because they never played baseball. Isn't that a bit like saying a catcher can't be a pitching coach? Or that a general manager who never played baseball can't hire a coach?

Personally, I don't dismiss coaching though, since it is hard to quantify, it is hard to assign it a value. Usually in the BP Annuals there are comments about how coaching changed a player. Studies like those on catcher framing also can indicate a result of good coaching.

Nov 20, 2012 09:43 AM
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C.J. Nitkowski

Catchers can be pitching coaches, they work with pitchers their entire careers. GMs can hire a coach because they have worked in the game on the pro side for a significant time where they have been able to see first hand what works and what doesn't in coaching.

I think this an area where outside of the game you are guessing at best.

Nov 21, 2012 06:19 AM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Thanks for replying C.J.

While a sabremetrician may be "outside the game", the better ones have spent months or years studying a single topic. In addition, generally a sabremetrician publishes their findings for review by other sabremetricians for critique and commentary. In some instances, being outside the game can be a bit of an advantage because it can allow some impartiality in the research. However, there are quite a few sabremetricians who are able to call up a team requesting information and/or interviews.

Coaches spend all their time around a player. Sabremetricians spend all their time around particular topics. I think both sides can provide insights just as physicists have done research on the effects on baseball at altitude. Heck, I even get a kick out of the Mythbusters episode where they look at things like whether running through first base or sliding is a better play.

So, to sum a bit, I think sabremetricians can have an opinion just like an average fan can. Their opinion might be more thoroughly researched and vetted than an average fan but just because a sabremetrician is not on the dugout shouldn't be the sole criteria to dismiss their perspective.

Nov 21, 2012 07:19 AM
rating: 1
 
mikebuetow

I'm reminded of how Curt Schilling was initially reluctant to OK a trade to the Red Sox because he felt his pitching style wouldn't be effective in Fenway Park. Schilling, you will recall, considered himself pretty savvy when it came to understanding the data. Theo Epstein and other Red Sox management showed him why he was wrong, and obviously they knew best.

N=1, of course, but I think we need to be careful in recognizing just who the expert on a given subject is.

Nov 21, 2012 07:51 AM
rating: 1
 
C.J. Nitkowski

I agree they can have an opinion. I just don't think it is very plausible for them to form an opinion on whether coaching has value or how valuable it is. It is a relational thing where you can't measure results.If you're not there you can't really opine about it. I can't tell you if the San Diego Padres have a good pitching coach, I've never played for Darren Balsley. If I did I'm qualified to comment. I can however speak to what makes a good coach and what doesn't and I can attest that they are needed in the game and make a difference. That is based solely on my experiences. I'm not qualified to have an opinion on coaches outside of the level I have participated. I don't know what makes a good tennis or golf coach. I could watch those sports all day long and study, but not participating in them at the highest levels disqualifies me from having a valid opinion on professional coaching.

Nov 21, 2012 07:57 AM
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Richard Bergstrom

I can agree with the idea that at this time, it isn't very plausible for sabremetricians to form an opinion on whether coaching has value since right now, it's hard to measure what that value is.

Also, in fairness, note that you can only speak to what makes a good coach to you. However, different players have different personalities and respond differently. Someone you might think of as a good coach, another player might not. Even among players, it's hard to find a person universally valued as a good coach.

In a way, it could be a bit like a superstition of eating chicken before a game or doing five batting practice swings instead of six swings.. what matters is that, to the player, the coach is right for them. Even better if the coach happens to bring a new idea that helps the player out.

Nov 21, 2012 11:07 AM
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Nils J

Coaching could be like fielding in the late 90's. It's not possible to quantify and therefore dismissed by many 'stat guys'. And like fielding, we should explore and try to learn about it before we dismiss it.

One more thing I'd like to point out is the way coaches speak to the media. In general, they rarely come off as thoughtful or articulate, which leads people to think they never are thoughtful or articulate. Maybe coaches just don't care about public perception, but it has been source of a lot of *my* complaining about coaches.

Thanks C.J. for keeping us honest, I hope to see you write here again!

Nov 20, 2012 14:25 PM
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C.J. Nitkowski

Agreed. Some managers/coaches hate dealing with the media but it is part of the job. Articulate with the media and a well respected coach, a rare combination.

Glad you enjoyed the article.

Nov 21, 2012 06:21 AM
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devine

CJ, you seem to be saying that one way to measure the effectiveness of a coach would be to measure the consistency of the players he's responsible for working with. Is this a fair read?

Nov 20, 2012 14:32 PM
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C.J. Nitkowski

Mostly yes. Don't ruin a good player. Helping avoid a sophomore slump might also be a good way although at the end of the day, it's about the player's ability. A coach can only do so much. The players you have to work with, both their talent and personality, will dictate a coach's perceived success.

Nov 21, 2012 06:24 AM
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anome8

Questions that occur: how large is the spread of talent between the best coaches in the big leagues and the worst? One of the takeaways I got from this piece is that without good coaches player performance would suffer, but if most big league coaches fall into a narrow competent-plus range, most players gain the same level of benefit, neutralizing the value of one coach versus another. Thus, while coaches are important, since everyone has one, they aren't significant when trying to explain why one team wins more games than another. But if some coaches are Johnny Bench and others are Rick Stelmaszek, then it's worth a closer look.

Nov 20, 2012 22:13 PM
rating: 2
 
C.J. Nitkowski

The spread is not that big. Sometimes you'll run across a coach that really sticks out, in either a good or bad way, but the bulk are similar.

Nov 21, 2012 06:26 AM
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Richard Bergstrom

If you think the bulk of coaches are similar, might that be suggestive of the challenges that sabremetricians have in evaluating the effect of coaching?

If players think coaches are similar and there's no compelling stat that makes a coach jump out (for better or for worse), then I can understand (though I may not agree) with the impressions some sabremetricians have portrayed regarding the lack of value in coaching.

Nov 21, 2012 07:39 AM
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C.J. Nitkowski

Yes, that is part of why I believe you cannot effectively evaluate coaching with any stats.

Yes, in a statistical world the coach has no effect. In the real one though, where the game is played, they have effect. A minimal one, keep the train moving, fix the little mistakes, make slight improvements.

Nov 21, 2012 08:03 AM
rating: 0
 
Ric Size

When C.J. Nitkowski writes, "I am hanging on by a thread and still trying to continue my career so I wouldn't want to throw any coach specifically under the bus...", I ask myself, "How many people are this honest about who they are?"

Great stuff!

Nov 21, 2012 14:11 PM
rating: 0
 
Flinns2011

CJ, I loved your article. I hope good coaching is not like pornography - you can't describeit, but you recognize it when you see it. I am not a stats freak, but I spent many a day in my youth with APBA and Strat-o-Matic baseball cards, recreating whole baseball seasons with my equally obsessed friends. My teams consistently finished in the top of the leagues. Was this due to random chance or my recognition of patterns that led to greater success? I am not sure, but I think that you can look at baseball coaches as we look at mentors in any field. Most people will benefit from a mentor that 1. understands their needs, whether it be physical, psychological or mechanical and 2. communicates in a consistent manner that allows the player to improve. My thought is that great coaching probably comes from multiple coaches, each adding a necessary component, but in a consistent manner. Perhaps that is why the "Oriole Way" and the Dodger systems were so successful.

Nov 26, 2012 17:37 PM
rating: 1
 
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