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In-depth look at Joe Girardi’s treatment of pitchers

The analysis of Joe Girardi’s treatment of pitchers in his one managerial campaign with the 2006 Marlins. While we wait to find out who it will be, perhaps this will help.

Part 1
Pitcher Abuse Points -
Since I’m not a member of BPro, I can’t access their custom stat reports (which would have made this study much easier), so I did the best I could. Looking at Girardi’s treatment of starters vs. Torre’s treatment, we can see a few things. I looked at Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP) in 2006 (for starters over 100 ip) – Florida’s starters accumulated a total of over 147,000 abuse points, whereas Yankee starters reached just under 48,000. This appears to be a huge difference until you realize Florida had six pitchers qualify while the Yanks had just four. A better way to equalize the measuring stick is to take the average PAP per pitcher: for Florida it was about 25,000 while the Yanks had about 12,000. So the gap isn’t quite as big as it seemed but there’s still a gap.

Outside of Total PAP, there’s also Max PAP, which is the maximum for a single game by that pitcher. Randy Johnson (I’m so glad I don’t have to type that name much anymore) had the highest single game PAP among the two teams: over 24,000! Then taking the average Max PAP of the teams puts the Yanks ahead – 7000 vs. 5000. So it seems Girardi pushed harder consistently but when Torre did push, it was very hard.

Then there’s Avg PAP which is (as you guessed) average PAP per start. Florida’s was higher: 800 PAP per start (not weighted toward number of starts), while the Yanks’ average Avg PAP was just 360.

The problem with PAP is that pitchers who suck will never get abused (e.g. go beyond 100 pitches), so a manager with a great rotation will look like a task-master when simply looking at PAP. This is part of the reason for the disparity – the Yanks 4th starter was Jaret Wright, who pitched more than six innings just twice in 2006 (he basically sucked – should Torre get credit for not using him a lot? I don’t think so). On the other side is Dontrelle Willis, a workhorse who pitched 223 innings in 2006 with a 3.87 era – should Girardi get penalized for counting on a great pitcher?

Conclusion: Torre has a slight edge here.

Part 2
Reliever Usage -
Using BRef’s Play Index, I looked at the raw data for how Girardi and Torre used relievers in 2006. Three ways of using relievers would worry me, so I searched for them – 1. relievers brought in on less than 3 days of rest to throw at least 40 pitches, 2. good relievers brought in to blowouts, and 3. the same reliever brought in on consecutive days.

The first search produced 16 hits for the 2006 Marlins vs. 14 for the Yankees. That’s a strike against Girardi. However, when you think about long relief, Girardi doesn’t look as bad. He had to call on relievers in the first three innings seven of those times whereas Torre had the excuse of using a long reliever just thrice. Accounting for those, Torre takes the lead with 11 vs. 9 for Girardi.
The second search was tougher because how does one identify a ‘good’ reliever and a ‘blowout’? I decided to go with relievers who had ERAs better than their team’s ERA (and pitched over 20 ip). And a ‘blowout’ being a game in the 7th inning or later with a five run difference. For the Marlins it was: Borowski, Tankersley, Herges, Kensing, Pinto, Resop and Nolasco.
Borowski was used in 10 blowouts! (and pitched in 72 games)
Tankersley 3. (49 gms)
Herges 14! (66 gms)
Kensing 6. (37 gms)
Pinto 6. (27 gms)
Resop 9! (22 gms)
Nolasco 0. (35 gms)
So blowout games (48) divided by total games (308) = 16 %

For the Yanks:
Proctor, Rivera, Myers, Bruney.
Proctor 16! (83 gms)
Rivera 9. (63 gms)
Myers 9. (62 gms)
Bruney 4. (19 gms)
38/227 = 16.7 %

So they’re pretty damn close with Torre using his good relievers a bit more often in blowouts. A strike against him.

The third search looked at how often Girardi used relievers (who pitched in at least 20 games) on consecutive days.
Borowski – 19 times
Herges – 11
Messenger – 9
Tankersley – 10
Kensing – 6
Pinto – 6
Resop – 3

So out of 436 relief appearances in 2006, 15 % (64) were made by pitchers on consecutive days. To have something for comparison, let’s also look at Torre in ’06. 487 total relief appearances by the 2006 Yankees:
Proctor – 20 times!
Farnsy – 14
Villone – 18
Rivera – 16
Myers – 20
Beam – 2

Torre used relievers on consecutive days 18.5 % (90 times). Another strike against Torre for bullpen usage. 3.5 % ain’t that big a difference, but realize Girardi used just one of his relievers on consecutive days more than 13 times (Borowski at 19), while Torre did it with five different guys.

Conclusion: Girardi manages a better bullpen.

Part 3
Injury histories -
This part is all about Florida’s starters, several of whom, after reaching career highs in innings in 2006 had either serious injuries or serious declines in 2007. Did Girardi’s managing cause either? First off, who were the affected pitchers?

DTrain:
2006 – 223 ip, 3.87 era
2007 – 205 ip, 5.17 era

Scott Olsen:
’06 – 180 ip, 4.04 era
’07 – 177 ip, 5.81 era

Josh Johnson:
’06 – 157 ip, 3.10 era
’07 – 15.2 ip, 7.47 era (injury shortened)

Ricky Nolasco:
’06 – 140 ip, 4.82 era
’07 – 21 ip, 5.48 era (injury shortened)

Anibal Sanchez:
’06 – 114 ip, 2.83 era
’07 – 30 ip, 4.80 era (injury shortened)

This piece of evidence is the most damning of Girardi’s managerial skills. All of these pitchers were under 25 in 2006, and with the Trio (Phil, Joba, Kennedy) set to be in the Yanks 2008 rotation, a manager who kills young’ins would be awful. Let’s take it pitcher by pitcher.

1. DTrain’s era went up nearly 1.5 runs, but I personally wouldn’t blame Girardi – Willis’ career high in innings was actually reached in 2005 (before Girardi), where he had a phenomenal era of 2.83. His innings went down in 2006, but his era went up a full run. If Girardi takes blame for his 2007 (5.17 era), then the 2005 manager (Jack McKeon) should take blame for Willis’ 2006 season that saw his era go up a full run.

2. Scott Olsen showed the largest non-injury related decrease. His era went up almost two runs (!) in nearly the same number of innings. He was arrested in July, so perhaps there were off-the-field problems. He also suffered an elbow injury in 2005 after pitching 100 innings between the majors and minors. The fact that Girardi had him pitch 180 innings the next year (after an arm injury) is a strike against him (although perhaps not entirely the reason, e.g. the arrest).

3. Josh Johnson pitched 152 innings in 2005 (the year before Girardi). Joe G pitched him 157 in 2006. Nothing to really fault Girardi about there. He suffered a non-workload related injury (Tommy John in fact) in August of this year after pitching 37 innings between the majors and minors.

4. Ricky Nolasco is another case like Johnson’s. He threw 162 innings in the minors in 2005, then 140 with Girardi’s Marlins. He suffered ‘elbow inflammation’ this year, but again, a non-workload related injury.

5. Anibal Sanchez threw 136 total (minor league) innings in 2005, then 200 (between the majors and minors) in 2006. This 64 inning increase is a lot (a 30 ip a year increase is considered ideal). Here’s the catch: Sanchez had Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2003. Is his arm the reason he missed most of 2007 (just 30 minor league ip), or if not, shouldn’t Girardi have been more careful with a 22-year-old former TJ patient? Yes, probably.

Conclusion:
Looking at the big picture, I do not think Joe Girardi was responsible for what happened to Florida’s pitchers this year. All the cases outside of Sanchez and maybe Olsen are clearly not his fault but Girardi’s taken a lot of unfair blame. And what about the GM? Shouldn’t he shoulder some of the blame too? Brian Cashman and Nardi Contreras protected Joba this year – why didn’t Florida’s front office take similar action to protect Sanchez and Olsen? And that was with a rookie manager, not a 12-year, four-titled, future Hall of Famer.

Part 4
Some things to remember:
- the fact that Girardi has just one year to analyze (small sample size)
- I didn’t address the belief that Torre has killed the careers of several relievers
- the D-Train effect, which radically skews the Marlins PAP numbers higher
- the Jaret Wright effect, which radically skews the Yanks PAP numbers lower
- I didn’t look at Torre’s pen usage outside of 2006
- Relating Girardi to Torre instead of the average ML manager (which would be way too time consuming)

Conclusion:
This has only compared Joe Girardi’s one year of managing to one year of Joe Torre’s 27-year managing career. Both sample sizes are a bit small to draw any definitive verdict, but (in the case of Girardi) it’s the only sample of his managing we have. Despite the sample sizes being statistically small, the conclusions do seem to jive with my own observations. I also haven’t compared Girardi to Don Mattingly, the other front runner for the job. He has no managing experience outside of being hitting coach and then bench coach under Torre for the past four years.

 
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