Managers Lie to Motivate

By | March 09, 2006

I’m reading Peter Gammons’ blog right now, and he has the following anecdote about Jim Leyland:

Leyland approached Brandon Inge to discuss his AL-high 23 errors at third base last year. “See that guy?” Leyland asked, pointing to infield coach Rafael Belliard. “He made 10 errors in five years. You’d better listen to him.”

Well, technically, Leyland is almost right. In the five seasons from 1994 to 1998, Belliard made only nine errors. The rest of the story, of course, is that Belliard only played a total of 261 games in those five seasons, and even those must have been a lot of partial games, since he only racked up 533 at-bats. So really, those five seasons were really more like one full season, so Belliard’s nine errors goes from looking amazing to looking average.

In Rafael Belliard’s career, he averaged 11.9 errors per 162 games. His career fielding percentage of .977 is just slightly better than the league average of .969. So Jim Leyland apparently stretches the truth to teach a lesson, but don’t tell that to Brandon Inge (whose career fielding percentage, by the way, is .981).

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