Half Days: Manager Ejections By The Numbers

May 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister (28) is ejected by umpire Todd Tichenor (13) during a baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Rangers won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been said that catchers make great managers because they understand the intricacies of calling a game, managing a pitcher, his matchup with certain batters and choosing pitch selection throughout a game. That logic has certainly carried over to the hiring process for skippers. Former catchers accounted for 14 out of 30 MLB managers in 2015, 49% of all managers last year, and historically have accounted for 21.6% of managers according to SABR Research.

If we look at some of today’s managers and their success, Joe Maddon, Bruce Bochy, and Mike Matheny immediately come to mind. Who could forget the success Joe Torre had as a manager in New York? How do the numbers bear out overall, though?

Position Percent of Managers Winning Percentage
Catcher 21.6% 49.3%
Outfielder 16.6% 49.8%
Second Baseman 13.0% 51.7%
Shortstop 12.7% 49.5%
Pitcher 10.4% 49.8%
First Baseman 9.2% 50.8%
Third Baseman 8.0% 50.6%
Utility 4.4% 47.9%
Non-player 1.8% 50.0%
Unidentified 2.4% 44.8%

This provides actual evidence to support the idea that a student of the game, yet a non-player, can be more successful at managing a Major League Baseball team than a catcher.

All this talk about manager performance, coupled with the recent happenings between the Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays, brings to mind a different question: Is a former catcher-manager more likely to have a hot temper and be ejected than other former players? Mike Scioscia (a former catcher himself) certainly has a bit of a hot temper and a #sciosciaface that’s well known around the AL West, but I’ve never seen him come out of the dugout after being ejected. John Gibbons did so two Sunday’s ago shortly after Rougned Odor punched Jose Bautista for a hard slide into second base during the ensuing bench-clearing brawl.

Gibbons’ tenure as a major league catcher was 17 games across two years (1984 and 1986) with the New York Mets. To date, John Gibbons has a 50.5% winning percent in his two separate tenures as Blue Jays manager, while Jeff Banister has posted a 54.9% winning record since taking over the Rangers at the beginning of 2015.

Since former catchers make up almost half of all managers in the league today, it stands to reason they’re also responsible for manager ejections, but is there an even greater correlation? During 2015, including the preseason and postseason, managers were ejected on 104 occasions. Former catcher-managers were ejected 51 times which is just about exactly 49% of all manager ejections, the same percent of managers that are former catchers. No surprise here.

That leads to the next question: Is there a correlation between which umpire ejects a manager and his former position as a player? Let’s assume that if a home plate umpire ejects a manager or a player for that matter, it’s probably because he’s been arguing balls and strikes. In 2015, the home plate umpire accounted for 73% of all manager ejections, which also isn’t all that surprising. What also isn’t surprising was that former pitchers were ejected by home plate umpires at a significantly greater rate.

In 2015, there were three former pitcher managers in baseball and they were ejected a total of 10 times. Seven of those 10 came by home plate umpires. Padres manager Bud Black was only ejected four times all season, with all four coming from home plate umpires. There certainly seems to be a trend of former pitcher managers letting home plate umpires know their feelings about the strike zone above and beyond other managers, which isn’t surprising once you realize that pitchers were ejected more than any other player in the same year. That’s a trend mirrored in current pitchers, not just former ones.

Through 2015, there was a total of 229 ejections, including all players and coaches. Of those, 104 were managers and another 20 were other coaches, accounting for more than half of ejections in the year. Of the remaining 105 that were player ejections, 36 of those were pitchers, and 32 of the pitchers that were ejected were thrown out by the home plate umpire. With pitchers above all other positions living and dying on balls and strikes, it’s natural to see their displeasure manifested in statistical form.

Across Major League Baseball last season, teams averaged 7.63 ejections for the year. Texas, and by extension the AL West are under-performing in the ejection department. The A’s were only ejected a league-leading five times while the Angels and Astros had 6 and the Rangers and Mariners had seven. The team with the most ejections in the year was the San Diego Padres, who had 3 games with multiple ejections.

Rangers fans might take some solace with the fact that the Blue Jays had the 2nd most ejections in the league for 2015 with 14, having three games with multiple ejections and two games with three players or coaches being tossed.

Robert Aycock on sabtwitter
Robert Aycock
Robert's first Texas Rangers game was in June of 1991. That was a 15 inning game where Nolan Ryan pitched the first 9 innings, Gary Pettis went 0-6, and Robert was hooked for life. Robert has a pretty exciting job in the real world. He's a corporate tax attorney at an oil company. Don't ask about it unless you want to get really bored.

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