Effectively Wild Wiki


Ben and Sam answer listener emails about the importance of coaches, defensive stats, and how we know whether pitchers should gain or lose weight, with guest appearances by Colin Wyers and Doug Thorburn.


  • Value of coaching staffs
  • Defensive stats vs. the eye test
  • Pitcher weight


Ben plans to record the whole episode, including calling up two guests, "live". Sam is skeptical it will all work.

Email Questions[]

  • Kevin (Toronto, @flightsimgeek): "Good evening or morning Ben & Sam, I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to your baseball discussions as I start my mornings whether they include crickets or not. My question has to deal with evaluating the performance of a baseball coaching staff in general. Its been generally accepted that a manager is responsible for maybe one or two wins over the course of a season, growing up in the mid 80s and early 90s I remember hearing many baseball people and broadcasters praising certain coaching staffs or coaches for their expertise. Specifically, I remember the Oakland A's staff of Dave Duncan, Dave McKay, and Rene Lachemann being heralded for their skill in dealing with the team. Given the advent of more advanced metrics do you think there might be a way to quantify one coaches skill over another given a time period? It cannot be as simple as looking at, say, one pitching staffs' ERA from one year to another and saying a coach was more effective. I realize that interpersonal skills and teaching methods cannot be easily measured for performance evaluation either. How well a staff performs given the general direction and responsibilities given by a manager and organization would also have to be factored in. I ask this question, for currently in Toronto there has been a coaching exodus which has confused many fans and media. John Farrell's exit has been something most have been resigned to accept. He was a rookie manager who did a decent job with the injuries to the team and the youth on the roster. His leaving, while unexpected, has been met with the attitude that a manager is just a manager. Brian Butterfield and Torey Lovullo's departure from the Blue Jays has been harder to pin down. They have a good reputation here and elsewhere for being quality coaches. I guess this is all a long winded way of saying is there any way for us to know how valuable a coach is to an organization? How good is good? Can we measure it? Is a good staff worth 1-2 wins over a season or less?
  • Allen: "I always read and hear how Adam Jones and Curtis Granderson are considered great center fielders by the mass of casual fans, but sabermetrically they are below average. When I watch Jones, he glides through the outfield making every catch seem effortless. What do the sabermetrics say that we cannot see on a daily basis as I watch every game?"
  • Matt: "Hey Ben & Sam, I know that there is a lot made of pitchers getting out of shape and not living up to what the ball club believes is their potential: John Lackey, Fernando Valenzuela. But last year Tim Lincecum came into Giants spring training 15 pounds lighter due to not eating In-N-Out Burger and Dave Righetti said he was too light. I was wondering if there were other pitchers that have lost their potential, according to the ball club, due to getting thinner and if a pitcher has an ideal BMI that would help his potential."


  • Sam thinks it is next to impossible to quantify manager/coach influence on a level of added wins, but thinks teams can and do consider the overall positive or negative impact they have.
  • On TV it can be harder to judge outfielders because you may not see their positioning as well or how quick/to where their first step is.
  • Colin Wyers and Doug Thorburn are guests.
  • There is a trade-off between flexibility and strength for players who gain/lose weight. For example, Tim Lincecum may gain/retain flexibility by losing weight but lose lower leg/body strength.