For Bell, it's all in the intangibles
Frankly, Stat Guy had hoped to leave behind heavy-duty managerial analysis for at least one week. But the news is the news, and even in the statistical analysis game, you have to have the reflexes of a cat.
The best news for Royals fans is that all of the analysis on this subject is unproven theory. Because if it were proven, this wouldn't be a happy time.
According to cumulative Wins Added (see the Stat Guy blog for details), Bell ranked 96th out of 100 managers studied in the 1988-2004 period. His Wins Added per 162 games ranked 71st of 81 managers who had at least two seasons under their belt. Bell contributed -3.1 wins per 162 games to the teams he managed.
Bell's two best teams were the 1997 Tigers and the 2000 Rockies, two teams generally considered to be overachievers and largely responsible for any positive reputation Bell has in baseball circles. Those were the only two seasons in which he posted positive Wins Added figures (0.1 and 0.7, respectively).
In another analysis, we measured the immediate impact on wins upon the arrival of a new skipper. Bell's Detroit teams lost an additional 4.7 games in the two seasons after he took over. That's on average. In 1996, the Tigers lost 109 games but rebounded and lost only 83 in 1997. In 1998, they regressed to 97 losses, and Bell was gone by season's end.
After Bell took over the Colorado Rockies, the team improved by an average of three games per season in 2000 and 2001. In 2002, Bell was fired after 22 games.
According to the Royals' stated criteria, the new manager was supposed to have experience (check) and a history of winning (oops). All of the other finalists had at least some degree of success. While this analysis is trying to look beyond raw winning percentage, Bell fails even in the vulgar terms of wins and losses.
His career winning percentage is .428, earned in stints with two teams and 807 career games. His best record was 82-80 for Colorado in 2000. None of his teams came within sniffing distance of the postseason.
It's hard to understand what the Royals see in Bell, but you hate to skewer a guy before he has hardly stepped off the plane. The reasons the Royals gave Tuesday for hiring Bell were all intangible and, of course, intangible analysis is outside the scope of this space. Turn to the Karma Mystic Guy for that spin.
But, just to be upbeat, we'll leave you with the following drum-skin analysis:
JOE TORRE'S WINNING PERCENTAGE
First five seasons: .405
Next 18 seasons: .565
See, it can happen.
Wins, er, lost?
Out of 100 managers analyzed in the 1988-2004 period, Tony La Russa ranked as the best manager in the period with a cumulative total of 41.6 Wins Added. Here are the bottom five:
Rank Manager WA 96 Buddy Bell -15.6 97 Alan Trammell -16.8 98 Russ Nixon -18.8 99 Jim Lefebvre -21.0 100 Jimy Williams -30.6