How Important Are Managers?

Not very, according to my new paper.

HIRED TO BE FIRED: THE PUBLICITY VALUE OF MANAGERS

Abstract
Sports teams frequently fire and hire managers when they experience losing. However, determining managerial responsibility for player performance is difficult to measure. This study examines how major-league baseball players perform under different managers and estimates that managers have little effect on performance. The study further investigates whether or not replacing managers serves as a signal to fans that the team is improving, which boosts attendance. The results indicate that new managers were associated with increased attendance in the 2000s; however, such effects were not present in the 1980s and 1990s.

Here’s an old blog post on some preliminary results from the study. I really wished that I had written a chapter in Hot Stove Economics on this topic, but I just didn’t have the time. I will be presenting this paper at the Southern Economic Association annual meeting later this month.

So, don’t fret Mets fans. I’m not sure it matters all that much whom the front office hires as manager. But a popular hire could at least give a boost to the fan base.

7 Responses “How Important Are Managers?”

  1. Have you seen Chris Jaffe’s book, “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers”? Do you have a sense of how your results stack up with his?

  2. JC says:

    I am familiar with the book, but I have not read it.

  3. Shek says:

    JC, did you try to look at a managerial “honeymoon” effect similar to the new stadium “honeymoon” bump in attendance? Also, how has the length of tenure changed changed across the decades? I wonder if bringing in a new manager after a long-tenured one may result in less of a bump – some kind of fan loyalty effect that may counteract interest in the new manager. Lastly, do you think that the marriage of regional cable networks and sports and corresponding manager/coach shows may generate more interest in “test driving” the new manager/coach and thus be another potential explanation for the bump in attendance being seen only in the 2000′s?

  4. JC says:

    Those would all be interesting things to look at, but I did not investigate them.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rob Neyer and J.C. Bradbury, Bobby Big Wheel. Bobby Big Wheel said: Joe Girardi's binder says, "Very." RT @jc_bradbury How Important Are Managers? http://bit.ly/ddqwKX [...]

  2. [...] Enter J.C. Bradbury, who used all of that fancy book-learnin’ he picked up while becoming an economics professor to study the impact of major league managers. He has a new paper on it.  Here’s a link to the whole thing.  Here’s the abstract: Sports teams frequently fire and hire managers when they experience losing. However, determining managerial responsibility for player performance is difficult to measure. This study examines how major-league baseball players perform under different managers and estimates that managers have little effect on performance. The study further investigates whether or not replacing managers serves as a signal to fans that the team is improving, which boosts attendance. The results indicate that new managers were associated with increased attendance in the 2000s; however, such effects were not present in the 1980s and 1990s. [...]

  3. [...] of a baseball team are just so dependent on so many factors that to pick one, that’s likely one of the smallest, and attempt to judge it is simply beyond reason.There is no discernible metric to possibly measure [...]