Brisbee: Dusty Baker will manage the Astros in 2020, and he’ll probably manage them well

From SABR member Grant Brisbee at The Athletic on January 30, 2020:

Like most healthy, normal adults, I can recite a list of Dusty Baker decisions from the 1990s and 2000s that still bother me. Like most people who followed the Giants closely during his tenure, I can tell you exactly what was impressive and endearing about him. He contains baseball multitudes and always has.

If you’re going to analyze Baker becoming the new Astros manager, though, it’s important to explore the differences between baseball in 2002 and baseball in 2020. If you still have a list of grievances against him, a mental tallying of the strategic crimes from his Giants or Cubs tenures, it’s probably safe to bury them deep in the earth. Baker fits the perfect template for a manager in 2020, and you can forget most of what used to bother you.

Before getting too far into this, don’t think that I’m trying to minimize those strategic crimes. They were very real. There will be times when I’m trying to remember my mother’s cell phone number — hey, it’s been saved on my phone for 20 years — and I’ll instead blurt out “Shinjo at DH and Kenny Lofton in center field???” In 2002, when a 39-year-old Shawon Dunston was one of the least likely players in baseball history to get on base, Baker would occasionally slot him into the leadoff spot. Back then, these were sabermetric felonies, and it’s not like they look better with age.

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Originally published: January 30, 2020. Last Updated: January 30, 2020.