Friday, August 6, 2010

Baseball Manager Approval Ratings

Over the course of the last two months PPP has polled on the approval ratings of 18 managers of major league baseball teams.

Some brief methodological info before getting to the numbers. In states with multiple teams we asked which one poll respondents were a fan of, or if they were not a fan of any team. In states with only one team we simply asked if respondents considered themselves to be a fan of that team. The approval numbers are only among people who identified themselves as being fans of a particular team. It should be noted that the Tony LaRussa numbers are among Cardinals fans in Illinois where the team has a strong following (we haven't polled in Missouri since we started doing these.) Also the Jim Riggleman numbers are among Nationals fans who live in Maryland.

To the numbers:

-Baseball fans are by and large happy with the managers of their favorite teams. 15 of the 18 had positive approval numbers.

-The biggest path to popularity is turning a historically irrelevant team into a success. 3 of the 4 highest rated managers are the Angels' Mike Scioscia, the Rays' Joe Maddon, and the Phillies' Charlie Manuel. None of their franchises are known for having a track record of success but they've been at the top of the heap the last few seasons (and even further back in Scioscia's case.)

-The three managers with negative numbers are the Pirates' John Russell, the Astros' Brad Mills, and the Indians' Manny Acta. Timing may be important in considering these numbers though. Mills and Acta were both polled on in June after both of their teams had gotten off to abysmal starts in their first year at the helm. But the Indians and Astros have shown some signs of life since the All Star break so it's possible their fans are feeling more charitably toward them now. Can't really say that for Russell and the Pirates.

The approval numbers from most popular to least popular here:


Approval Numbers


Dates Polled

Mike Scioscia



July 23-25

Joe Maddon



July 16-18

Tony LaRussa



June 12-13 (Illinois)

Charlie Manuel



June 19-21

Joe Torre



July 23-25

Bud Black



July 23-25

Dusty Baker



June 26-27

Jim Riggleman



July 10-12 (Maryland)

Ron Washington



June 19-21

Bruce Bochy



July 23-25

Lou Piniella



June 12-13

Ozzie Guillen



June 12-13

Don Wakamatsu



July 27-August 1

Bob Geren



July 23-25

Edwin Rodriguez



July 16-18

John Russell



June 19-21

Brad Mills



June 19-21

Manny Acta



June 26-27


Lance S said...

Hey! Congrats on the new gig! Looking forward to even greater visibility for your consistently top notch polling.

Christian Liberty said...

Ron Washington (Texas Rangers) has also done an impressive job managing a team constrained by bankruptcy proceedings. The Rangers even improved their starting rotation by picking up Cliff Lee when the Yankee deal fell through. With the resolution of the sale to Nolan Ryan's group and acquisition of an ace starting pitcher (the only pitcher to win a game against the Yankees in last year's World Series) the future looks even better. The Texas Rangers have the 4th best record in baseball and an 8 game lead in the West. Washington seems to be getting high approval for his management of the team under challenging financial conditions.

Dustin Ingalls said...

Well, just to quibble, Washington doesn't have much to do with the construction of the team--he just plays with what he's given. The man Rangers fans should really thank is brilliant young GM Jon Daniels, who's built one of the best farm systems in baseball and made some shrewd trades over the last few years.

Christian Liberty said...

Point taken, Dustin. My observations were a bit out of order. The point is that the Rangers could be in Tom's category of teams that performed better than expected (whether the team rebounded after struggling historically or struggling financially) and the manager reaped the benefit of delivering for the fans. Texas has had a great year so far, despite bankruptcy restrictions (the result of an overeager leveraged buyout), and that the team now has the personnel to do even better with the new trade.

While the field manager and the GM both deserve credit for their roles, the field manager is more likely subject to public opinion. When's the last time fans clamored to replace a GM rather than a field manager?

In the face of financial difficulty, the Rangers rebounded much more than perennially struggling teams like Pittsburgh or Cleveland.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"When's the last time fans clamored to replace a GM rather than a field manager?"

That's true. Most fans probably don't even know who their GM is. I actually wanted to poll on some of the teams' GMs, but we can only ask so many questions, and the manager is more the public face of the non-player personnel than anyone else since they're on TV in the dugout for every game, and the GMs typically stay in their offices (unless they're Billy Beane and micromanage team strategy and have public notoriety).

I also wanted to poll on a few owners. I don't think Marlins fans should be too happy with Jeffrey Loria, for one, nor O's fans with Peter Angelos (though some of that perennial disappointment goes to Andy MacPhail too), nor Pirates fans with owner Bob Nutting (though Pittsburgh's economy and GM Neal Huntington also have a lot to do with their utter failure). I think Royals fans should be a little peeved with owner David Glass, though GM Dayton Moore, while sometimes inept, has done a few good things. No one, though, has done as well with so little as the Rays and GM Andrew Friedman have. Joe Maddon also deserves to be high among the managers.

Christian Liberty said...

If you want to poll owners, one interesting wildcard would be the McCourt divorce saga and its effect on the Dodgers franchise. (ESPN subheadline: "The Dodgers' pennant run will not be half as entertaining as the owners' divorce trial")

The front office people sure fear the worst. And it would be an interesting contrast to see how the McCourts as owners would poll when Joe Torre polled so high.

"There was a saying in the front office that the three worst days of our jobs would be when Vin Scully died, when Tommy Lasorda died and when the McCourts decided to split," said one Dodgers official. "There was never any question it was gonna go lethal."

Just how "entertaining" is this drama going to get?

Christian Liberty said...

Pirates manager fires assistants.

"After a long-running series of internal conflicts, Pirates manager John Russell yesterday fired bench coach Gary Varsho and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan."

Update – Pittsburgh Pirates fire pitching and bench coach because of "lack of loyalty"

The Pirates are showing signs of cracking as they suffer another losing season. More changes to come?


The 42-70 Seattle Mariners took action on Monday, firing their manager Don Wakamatsu, along with their bench coach, pitching coach, and performance coach.

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