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Joe Girardi: Why the Yankees need to re-sign him

How does Joe Girardi compare to the greatest Yankees managers?

Torre and Girardi: The two greatest Yankees managers?
Torre and Girardi: The two greatest Yankees managers?
The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

Joe Girardi is a free agent after the season. Lately, there have been rumors that he may want out of New York, or that other teams (Cubs, Nationals) would be interested in signing him. While Girardi has been infuriating at times this year, he has also managed a team full of mediocre talent to an above-.500 winning percentage. Hell, they are still technically in the playoff race with less than ten games in the season remaining.

I wanted to look at how Girardi has performed compared to the other six New York Yankees managers with at least 900 games managed in pinstripes. I also wanted to see how he has performed versus his Pythagorean record. Pythagorean record is computed based on the number of runs a team scores and allows. It is supposed to be more reliable than winning percentage in determining the quality of the team, as it strips out the random distribution of runs that can impact specific games, and the luck factor in one-run and extra-inning games. However, teams with good defense and good bullpens have been known to outperform their Pythagorean record. I would also suggest that over a large enough sample size, say 900 games, a manager's ability to out-perform their Pythagorean record would reflect some of their skill as a manager.

With that said, here is a table with each of the Yankees top seven managers in games managed, sorted by games won:

Rk Mgr Yrs From To G W ▾ L W-L% Pythag W Pythag L Pythag W-L% W+ W+ per 162
1 Joe McCarthy HOF 16 1931 1946 2327 1460 867 .627 1459 868 .627 1 0.1
2 Joe Torre 12 1996 2007 1940 1173 767 .605 1132 808 .584 41 3.4
3 Casey Stengel HOF 12 1949 1960 1845 1149 696 .623 1143 702 .620 6 0.5
4 Miller Huggins HOF 12 1918 1929 1786 1067 719 .597 1054 732 .590 13 1.2
5 Ralph Houk 11 1961 1973 1750 944 806 .539 930 820 .531 14 1.3
6 Joe Girardi 6 2008 2013 964 560 404 .581 550 414 .571 10 1.7
7 Billy Martin 8 1975 1988 941 556 385 .591 547 394 .581 9 1.5

First, though unsurprising, these seven managers were all very good. Ralph Houk had the lowest winning percentage, but his .539 is still very good, as he managed through some dark times in the late 1960s. He has long been considered on the borderline for Hall of Fame managers, and is currently 17th all time in manager wins in MLB history. Billy Martin was known as a great manager who was able to quickly turn teams around, but who also burnt through his pitcher's arms in the process. Had he not died in a car accident on Christmas day in 1989, he probably would've moved up from his 35th place on the all-time wins list and had a shot at the Hall of Fame.

The top four are all either Hall of Famers, or soon-to-be in Joe Torre's case, as he has his first shot at induction as a manager this winter. They are also seen as four of the greatest managers in major league history. They have combined to manage in all or parts of 52 seasons in the team's history, almost half of their 111 years in New York. McCarthy is first in wins for Yankees managers, and is eighth on the all-time list. Torre is fifth all time, while Stengel is 11th and Huggins is 24th. Girardi has moved comfortably into sixth place for Yankees managers, although he will need another 4+ seasons to pass Houk for fifth place.

I also wanted to see how they performed versus their Pythagorean record. All seven managers out-performed their Pythagorean record, although McCarthy barely did. It would be hard for him to out-perform his Pythagorean record, given the fact that he had a .627 Pythagorean winning percentage thanks to some truly dominate offenses. The career leader in wins above their Pythagorean record for the Yankees is Joe Torre. He won 41 more games than he was expected to, given how many runs his team scored and allowed. Girardi is at 10 wins above his Pythagorean record, bunched together with Huggins, Houk, and Martin. However, converting the stat to the same baseline of W+ per 162 games, Girardi jumps into second place all time among Yankees managers, with 1.7 additional wins per season. He is behind only Joe Torre and his amazing 3.4 W+ per 162 games.

So what does this mean? It means that Girardi has guided his teams to about two extra wins per season over his six seasons with the Yankees. This year, it has been even more pronounced, as he is six wins above his Pythagorean record after Game 152. If we follow Fangraph's cost of a free agent win, and give Girardi credit for 2 wins per season, that would mean he would be worth at least $10 million per season. I doubt he gets much more than $6 million per season, which would make him the highest-paid manager in baseball, beating Mike Scioscia's $5 million salary.

It also means that the Yankees should re-sign him to be their manager after this season. There are really no other available candidates that would be an upgrade. The team would have to take a shot on an unproven manager (Sandy Alomar?) or a manager who has yet to be successful at the big league level (Willie Randolph?). Personally, I'd rather go with the manager who has proven he can be successful in New York, and has out-performed his expected win totals. Even if that means dealing with the Binder and its evil, trolling ways.

As long as we make sure we never give him access to Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Chris Stewart again.

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