We are now exactly one week from the official start of Spring Training for the Washington Nationals.
Dusty Baker has had a managerial career of taking over teams and improving them over his predecessor’s win totals. The Nats will make the 4th new team that Baker will take over. Because of all of the variables from year to year, there is no true scientific way to use Baker’s past managerial record to project his future managerial record; however, it didn’t stop us from coming up with a formula to do a Dusty projection. Baker has improved every team he took over to a total cumulative improvement of 25.59%. Using that percentage to project from Matt Williams 83 wins in 2015, the Nats should win 104 games based on the Dusty factor and what we will call “The Dusty Effect”.
In 1993, Baker took over Roger Craig’s San Francisco Giant team that won 72 games and Baker won 103 the following year. In 2003, Baker took over Baylor’s/Kimm’s Chicago Cub team that won 67 games and Baker won 88 the following year. In 2008, Baker took over Narrin’s/Mackanin’s Cincinnati Red team that won 72 games and Baker won 74 the following year.
FanGraphs has their team W/L charts based on their player projections:
New @fangraphs and @steamerpro projections
Nationals 88 wins
Mets 86 wins
— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) January 23, 2016
You will notice that since January 23rd, Fangraphs has moved the Mets back to 85 wins.
TalkNats has their charts based on the Dusty formula:
If you can’t read the horizontal chart, here it is vertically.
At Dusty’s news conference where he was introduced as the new Nats manager he had this to say, “When I took over the Giants, we were next to last. When I took over the Cubs, we were last. When I took over the Reds, I think we were last also. This is the best team I’ve ever inherited.”
That quote doesn’t go far enough. Baker took over that Giants team that only won 72 games the year before and improved them 31 wins to a total of 103 wins. It’s the largest modern increase for a manager taking over a new team. What FanGraphs does not project is the managerial effect as FanGraphs only uses player stats in their win projections.
Baker continued, “I don’t see it as nearly as big a challenge as I had in the past.
Like I’ve said throughout my managerial career I’ve been fortunate enough and forced to try to do more with less. Now I always said I wanted to have a situation where I could do more with more, so I’m looking forward to it. I think our players are looking forward to it.”
To ignore “The Dusty Effect” and his elite coaching staff when projecting the Nats wins and evaluating projection services like FanGraphs who give no value to managerial changes or ‘coaching’ up players is the way their system work; however, we believe there is great value in this managerial change to add wins from that.