Thursday, June 26, 2008

Managers' Home/Road Splits

So far this season, only six teams are playing .500 or better on the road. Last year, 22 of 30 teams were below .500 on the road. In 2006, twenty MLB teams lost more than they won on the road. Obviously, most teams struggle when away from their home ballpark. I don't know if this is due to lack of the comforts of home, batting first instead of last, hostile fans, or something else, but there it is. Regardless of the reason, since managers tend to get criticized for the failings of any teams, I thought it would be interesting to see which managers in major league history have had the most extreme splits in winning percentage from home to road games.

Interestingly, the most extremely home-successful managers plied their trade in the 19th century. The closest to evenly split managers come pretty evenly from all times after 1900. Playing twenty games at a time on the road without the most comfortable traveling methods no doubt made it tougher to win for nineteenth-century teams away from home.

In order to avoid interim or otherwise short-term managers mucking up the leaderboards, I set a minimum of 400 games managed to qualify for the leaderboard. This is about 2 1/2 modern major league seasons but, with the varying length of schedules in the past, can range up to five seasons for managers before 1900. This gave a sample of exactly 250 managers in baseball history. For the list of most extreme differences from home to road, I've included the top 10 managers who started after 1900 with their overall rank in order to show how that leaderboard is dominated by nineteenth-century skippers. I've also included links to the Baseball-Reference Franchise Encyclopedias of the weirder three-letter abbreviations for defunct teams.

Most Extreme Home-Road Splits for Managers, 1871-2007

1Buck Ewing1890-1900NYI-CIN-NYG315145.685174250.410.274
2Jim O'Rourke1881-1893BUF-WAS14587.625101171.371.254
3Dave Foutz1893-1896BRO16398.625101159.388.236
4John Ward1880-1894PRO-NYG-
5Bill Sharsig1886-1891PHA-PHQ15292.62386124.410.213
6Arthur Irwin1889-1899WNL-BRS-WAS-
7Gus Schmelz1884-1897CBK-SLM-CIN-
8Billy Barnie1883-1898BLO-WAS-
9Bill McGunnigle1888-1896BRO-PIT-LOU19595.672132153.463.209
10Patsy Tebeau1890-1900CLI-CLV-STL428221.659298362.452.208
11Stan Hack1954-1958CHC-STL123112.52376160.322.201
12Clint Hurdle2002-2007COL266211.558176298.371.186
20Ed Barrow1903-1920DET-BOS178131.576132189.411.165
21Eddie Kasko1970-1973BOS198121.621147174.458.163
22Joe Cantillon1907-1909WSH96128.42962169.268.160
24Bill Armour1902-1906CLE-DET220145.603162202.445.158
25Billy Hitchcock1960-1967DET-BAL-ATL158110.590116151.434.155
28Pants Rowland1915-1918CHW18999.656150148.503.153
31Billy Gardner1981-1987MIN-KCR193181.516137236.367.149
32Walter Johnson1929-1935WSH-CLE300181.624229251.477.147

I like the nicknames of some of the old-time franchises. Brooklyn Ward's Wonders? Cool. Let's leave behind those dusty old teams and turn now to the managers who did the same at home and on the road.

Least Extreme Home-Road Splits for Managers, 1871-2007

1Cookie Lavagetto1957-1961WSH-MIN136191.416135193.412.004
2Art Fletcher1923-1929PHI-NYY119188.388118195.377.011
3Frank Chance1905-1923CHC-NYY-BOS476318.599470330.588.012
4Tony Muser1997-2002KCR157219.418160212.430-.013
5Red Schoendienst1965-1990STL528471.529513484.515.014
6Larry Rothschild1998-2001TBD103143.419102151.403.016
7Pete Rose1984-1989CIN212186.533200187.517.016
8Lefty Phillips1969-1971CAL113110.507109115.487.020
9Frank Lucchesi1970-1987PHI-TEX-CHC164198.453152201.431.022
10Joe Tinker1913-1916CIN-CHH-CHC156151.508148157.485.023
15Bob Boone1995-2003KCR-CIN178227.440193217.471-.031

I've put Bob Boone at the bottom of this table because he and Tony Muser (#4 in this table) are the only two out of the 250 qualifying managers who won more often on the road than at home. Interestingly, Muser succeeded Boone as manager of the Royals.

Rather than clutter this post up with another table, I'm just going to list each current (read: "started the season at the helm of a club") big-league manager's career difference between his home winning percentage and road winning percentage through 2007. The same minimum applies: a manager must have managed at least 400 games coming into this season. Remember, the larger the number, the bigger discrepancy between that manager's home and road winning percentages.

Home Win% - Road Win% for MLB Managers, Through 2007
  1. Clint Hurdle, COL, .186
  2. John Gibbons, TOR, .134
  3. Ned Yost, MIL, .122
  4. Ron Gardenhire, MIN, .098
  5. Terry Francona, BOS, .096
  6. Tony LaRussa, STL, .088
  7. Mike Scioscia, LAA, .077
  8. Lou Piniella, CHC, .077
  9. Bruce Bochy, SFG, .067
  10. Bobby Cox, ATL, .067
  11. Eric Wedge, CLE, .064
  12. Bob Melvin, ARI, .064
  13. Dusty Baker, CIN, .061
  14. Jim Leyland, DET, .058
  15. Joe Torre, LAD, .053
  16. Ozzie Guillen, CHW, .049
  17. Willie Randolph, NYM, .041
  18. Charlie Manuel, PHI, .039

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