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October 26, 2013 / Nat Anacostia

Matt Williams, new manager

It’s been widely reported that Matt Williams will be the Nationals’ new manager. I don’t know that much about Williams, so I don’t have too much to say. I think it’s good news that he’s got a lot of history with Mike Rizzo and that they apparently get along very well. We saw with Jim Riggleman just how bad things can get when a GM doesn’t hire, or even get along well, with a manager.

Although I think it’s a negative that Williams doesn’t have any managerial experience, even in the minor leagues, that’s not a disqualifier—just something I think might be helpful.

Ultimately, though, even though I sometimes gripe about managerial decisions, the fact is that we don’t know that much about the impact of managers, and most of the in-game strategies we write about probably have very little impact on team performance. Games are basically won and loss because of the players, rather than the managers.

I tend to think that perhaps 80% of a manager’s impact comes in areas we can’t directly observe and measure. I’m not just talking about things like providing motivation and discipline. Some things that are seldom mentioned, like making sure that there are good communications flowing between players and management—for example, are players reporting when they’re hurt? (or when they suspect that their teammate may be hurt?)—can really affect the performance of a team (and have sometimes adversely affected the Nats. Yet communications is not something I see discussed often in books on baseball management.

I wish Williams well in his new job and will certainly have more to say as we get a chance to observe him.


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