Reminder Yankees Fans: Girardi was AWFUL

You might be wondering why I’d be doing a quick dive into analyzing the performance of a manager who doesn’t manage anymore, and your confusion would be a fair reaction. The short answer is because, like you, I’m a baseball fan and these things cross my mind, especially on Yankees off days as yesterday was. Furthermore, this is a baseball blog and analyzing trivia is by and large the purpose of a baseball blog, so here we are. That said, I’ll come back to a more detailed and specific reasoning in a minute.

Let’s get to it. Joe Girardi, who clearly is a bright guy and by all appearances seems to be a really good dude, was absolute trash as a manager, with due respect to trash.

Experience has taught me that when someone disagrees with you, as many Girardi defenders have over the years, that the best course of action is to start the conversation on their terms. Just get right at the heart of what makes them think they’re right.

To wit…

“Girardi won the Manager of the Year award in 2006!”

Under Jack McKeon, the 2005 Marlins were eighth in the 16 team National League in runs per game, and 10th in runs allowed per game. Technically, they were within small decimal points of being exactly league average in both. Yet under ole’ Jack the team outperformed their Pythagorean and won 83 games.

In 2006 when Girardi took over, there were a few significant roster changes – they lost Carlos Delgado and Josh Beckett but gained Hanley Ramirez (’06 Rookie of the Year) and Josh Johnson – but the bottom line didn’t change too much. The ’06 Marlins finished eighth in the NL in runs scored and 6th in runs allowed. If anything, you could say the net of the roster moves made the team a little better.

Yet the fish underperformed their Pythagorean and won 78 games – and Joe Girardi won Manager of the Year.

The quality of the roster at worst stayed the same, but likely improved, and the result was the team got five games worse under Joey G. Which serves as a reminder that there are many ways to win the Manager of the Year award, but doing a good job of managing isn’t necessarily one of them.

“But…but…rings!! Girardi won one with the Yankees!”

Oh brother…

In the Bronx, Girardi inherited a team that won 94 games the previous season and lost in the ALDS to Cleveland. Then with almost exactly the same group of significant contributors in 2008, Joe led the Yankees to 89 wins and seats on their couches to watch the postseason. The first time the Yankees missed the postseason since 1994 – when there was no postseason at all. (Let that sink in.)

So for the second time in as many chances, Joe inherited a roster that was as at least good as his predecessors’, if not better, but the team won five fewer games with Joe managing it.

Then in 2009, the Steinbrenner family’s checkbook acquired C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett. The three went on to produce 16 WAR between them in ’09, finishing second, third, and fourth on the team respectively in that category. Only Derek Jeter was more valuable to the Yankees in ’09 than CC. Tex, and AJ were.

The team won 103 games – yes, almost exactly the number in wins that the addition of CC, Tex, and AJ produced – and went on to win the World Series. There were a lot of reasons the Yankees won the World Series in 2009 – not one of them was the manager.

“In Joe Girardi’s 10 seasons with the Yankees, the team won more games than any other in baseball!”

Yes, and they still managed to significantly underperform when compared to both his predecessor (Joe Torre) and his successor (Aaron Boone) despite working under the same ownership and GM.

In 12 seasons with Joe Torre the Yankees averaged 98 wins per season and never missed the postseason. Under Boone, the Yankees have averaged 98 wins per 162 games and never missed the postseason.

Under Girardi they averaged 91 wins per season and missed the postseason almost half the time – four out of ten seasons to be exact.

I’ve written about it before, so I’m not going to completely rehash, but the Yankees 2017 was one of the worst, probably the worst, managing jobs by a Yankee manager in any of our lifetimes. The team was a juggernaut that was second in MLB in both runs per game and runs allowed per game but only managed to win 91 games, in large part due to an 18-26 record in one run games. Which is to be expected when the manager makes a habit of using the 11th and 12th guys on the staff late in tie games while saving the bullpen’s big guns for mop up duty.

Joe moved on to Philadelphia, and quite predictably the Phillies became the third organization to get worse after hiring Girardi – then improved immediately after he left.

Now, back to why is this relevant today? It still may not be because as I said, it’s all trivia. But given the number of times “Fire Boone!” has trended over the past few years I’m thinking Joe’s performance (cough) is something to reconsider and gain some perspective from when evaluating Boone, who has been nothing but very good.

Secondly, it’s always worth remembering that we need to stop using individual managerial calls and single games to evaluate managers when enormous sample sizes exist. (Which of course, goes for GMs and players too.)

Did I miss something? Let me know. Leave a comment below or yell at me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and/or the “My Baseball Page” page on Facebook.


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