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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Wisdom of Weaver

As I've mentioned before one of the baseball books I enjoyed last winter is Earl Weaver and Terry Pluto's Weaver on Strategy: The Classic Work on the Art of Managing a Baseball Team. The book was originally published in 1984 and re-released in 2002.

At the end of the book an epilogue published in 2002 recounts "Weaver's 10 Laws" that are sprinkled throughout the book.


Weaver's First Law: No one's going to give a damn in July if you lost a game in March
Excellent point of course. However, for a young team I think there is a bit of confidence that can be gained by playing well in Spring Training. I think what Weaver had in mind is managing to win games in March versus using those games as a tool for player evaluation.


Weaver's Second Law: If you don't make any promises to your players you won't have to break them
Weaver mentions that ideally he wouldn't have to talk to any of his players all season. He also notes that players, for example relief pitchers, who have to be told what their "role" is just don't get it. When asked such a question he would often retort "Your role is to warmup when I tell you and come in the game and pitch when I tell you."


Weaver's Third Law: The easiest way around the bases is with one swing of the bat Can't argue with that logic. In other words power and speed are not equals.


Weaver's Fourth Law: Your most precious possessions on offense are your twenty-seven outs
Weaver was ahead of his time in understanding the importance of not giving away outs. He says it makes no sense to bunt early in the game since you're giving away an out in a situation where a single run is not crucial. The opportunity cost of giving away outs early always exceeds the benefit.


Weaver's Fifth Law: If you play for one run, that's all you'll get
A corollary to the fourth law.


Weaver's Sixth Law: Don't play for one run unless you know that run will win a ballgame
The reason for the fifth law. Dusty Baker should learn this one.


Weaver's Seventh Law: It's easier to find four good starters than five
Once again, impecable logic. I've written before about the long awaited return of the four-man rotation. Craig Wright wrote about this topic at length in The Diamond Appraised in the late 1980s and others have shown that it is not the four-man rotation that increases the risk of injury but rather heavy pitch count games, especially at young ages. Someday, someone will try it and it'll be successful.


Weaver's Eighth Law: The best place for a rookie pitcher is in long relief
Not too much to say about this one. The idea is to not put too much pressure on a rookie and let them develop a bit before relying on them.


Weaver's Ninth Law: The key step for an infielder is the first one - left or right - but before the ball is hit
Weaver talks a bit about defense and cites Al Bumbry as an example of a player who learned how to do this.


Weaver's Tenth Law: The job of arguing with the umpire belongs to the manager, because it won't hurt the team if he gets thrown out of the game
Well, on this score Weaver did his job.

6 comments:

unca said...

Weaver's First Law: No one's going to give a damn in July if you lost a game in March
Excellent point of course. However, for a young team I think there is a bit of confidence that can be gained by playing well in Spring Training. I think what Weaver had in mind is managing to win games in March versus using those games as a tool for player evaluation.
I'm assuming that Weaver is talking about Spring Training here but there are managers who seem to feel this way about games played in April and May as well -- "We've got a lot more ball games to play, no reason to panic, etc." When it comes to the standings, however, a game lost in April counts the same as one lost in September. I'm hoping that this easy going philosophy doesn't translate into effort in the early going. Successful teams display a winning attitude from day one.

Dan Agonistes said...

Couldn't agree more. That's why it doesn't make any sense to go with a five-man rotation the first couple weeks of the season when you have extra days off. Why not put your best players out there and try to win an extra game or two in April? They count the same as those games in July. Weaver made this point as well.

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