No experience needed. 29 comments


In most industries, the prerequisite for a job is experience. Employers value it. Employers demand it. If you don’t have experience, you needn’t bother calling.

No experience, no job. That’s how it works in the world.

Except for, it seems, in the baseball world. These days, experience is a four-letter word. Not only is it a detriment to getting a job, experience seems to be a deal killer.

More and more, having a resumé that was forged from having accomplished something in this game has very little importance. One could argue, in fact, it’s of zero importance. It’s a black eye.

The manager used to be the most important hire a team could make. Often, the manager was the team. He was the leader. He was the heart and soul. He was the face of the team.

One usually likes having a general who knows his way around the battlefield. Now, the manager is the low man on the org chart. Just above the intern.

Of the thirty major league managers currently employed, nineteen got their jobs with absolutely no major league managing experience whatsoever. Most had absolutely no minor league management experience, either.

Even more telling is the more recent hires. In the past two seasons, eight manager vacancies have been filled in the National League. Seven have gone to first-timers. The American League has also seen eight managers hired in the past two years. Six had no experience. All totaled, that’s thirteen of the last sixteen managers recently hired. That’s 81 percent rookie managers.

Looking inward, none of the last three managers the Texas Rangers have hired had previous major league experience. One led his team to two World Series and one Wild Card game. He lost all three. One led his team to two American League Division Series. He lost both. Would experience have made a difference in any case? Of course. Experience always matters. And when you look back, even a sliver of difference would have made all the difference in the world. It just might have altered the legacy of this franchise.

These days, managers are dropped into the deep end of the pool and expected to learn how to swim. Good thing for them now it’s just a wading pool.

The front office makes the lineup suggestions. The front office makes the strategic calls. The front offices dictate the platoons and the defensive shifts. Duties and decision-making that were once left to experienced baseball men are now often being made by math nerds who’ve probably never stepped onto a field, and probably have never seen the sun.

This love affair with inexperience extends to five of the top members of the Rangers coaching staff. The manager, the hitting coach, the assistant hitting coach, the pitching coach, and the bullpen coach have never before done what they were hired to do.

Experience in baseball is over-rated. More to the point, experience is expensive.

And not just with managers. A recent Sports Illustrated article details how the current state of analytics is making experience players extinct as well.

Affording to SI, since 2006 there has been a 58% decrease in major league games started by players 33-years old or older. That’s stunning. Teams would rather go with raw, inexperienced younger players making the major league minimum than accomplished veterans.

Experience is no longer valued. More to the point, experience costs too much.

The article references four players over 33 who’ve had remarkable careers but cannot find a single team who wants them—Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Jones, Melky Cabrera, and Carlos Gomez—and a fifth, Hunter Pence, who is fighting for his baseball life. They all suffer from the most unforgivable of baseball maladies: experience.

Fans have to ask, is this the best product teams can put on the field? It’s the cheapest, to be sure.

Experience is wasted on the accomplished.

  • JacobMcCandles

    Very provoking article….while I will not disagree, a couple of things I would add. I think young, inexperienced mgrs are performing better than the retreads, Cora,Hinch managed the last two WS teams. On players I think its more age vs likelihood of injury.

    • dearmidol

      Cora did a great job. He might be the exception. It sure helped having that team. Not saying it was automatic, and not taking anything away from him, but having that team sure helped.

      While Hinch wasn’t a grizzled veteran when he led the Astros to the World Series, he had managed two years in Arizona beforehand.

      • JacobMcCandles

        Yeah and Cora learned under Hinch

  • mharrel

    Actually, if a rookie manager has been a player, I would argue that he has a great deal of experience. He has played many years under many managers at different levels. He has first hand observations of what works and what doesn’t work. So while he may not have actually done the job, he has years of experience watching others do the job.

    • JacobMcCandles

      And if you ever noticed….Catchers make the best Mgrs. Bochy,Hinch,Matheny…..and if you want Girardi,Ausmus,Scioscia…sure there is more

      • dearmidol

        Yep, look at all they are doing during a game with calling pitches, having to know the hitters, etc. Banister was a former catcher, too. So was Johnny Oates. In fact, looking at the list of former Rangers managers who had been catchers: Jerry Narron, Kevin Kennedy, Pat Corrales. Even interim managers Tim Bogar and Don Wakamatsu.

        • JacobMcCandles

          Think Bogar was a SS….but yeah they are kind of game mgrs as players.

    • dearmidol

      Welcome to RR3, mh. Other than Connie Mac back in the early 1900s, I can’t think of a single manager who wasn’t a player. Managers used to have stints in the minors. learning the craft, before they were given the chance in the major leagues. Now that experience doesn’t seem important.

  • elkaba

    I’m not going to disagree with your premise in principle, Kevin, but I think there’s more to it than inexperienced managers being cheaper. And that may be especially true when we’re talking about JD.

    For better or worse, the game is changing, or more accurately BEING changed, and at a rapid pace. The watershed of Moneyball and the ascendance of Sabermetrics were not things most experienced managers were deeply familiar with at the time, let alone fully accepting of. In other words, the most experienced managers were and are the most likely to be resistant to not only “interference” from FO dictates but to the overall changes to the game.

    When it comes to JD, that’s perhaps more true than with many GM’s. His history with Wash was probably enough to convince him he needed to go younger and less experienced with his manager(s). I don’t think Wash was one bit sold on the need or value of metrics above the value of personal experience, and I very much doubt dictates from the FO were any more welcomed and embraced.

  • CrazyEd

    CrazyEd says baseball season has officially arrived. His email inbox if starting to fill up with baseball related items. It’ll reach spam proportions once the minors get started. Not complaining, mind you.

  • CrazyEd

    Choo; good news, bad news. Good news that his shoulder is healthy. Bad news that his shoulder is healthy. I always hate it when a players career is ended/impacted by injury. I also hate it when an old veteran, in the twilight of his career (Choo), blocks the development of an excellent prospect (Calhoun). Choo, as productive as he has been, just is not a fit on the Rangers. The Rangers need to do whatever is necessary to move him. Forget the salary, it’s a sunk cost. You either pay him to use up a needed roster spot on a club that’s going nowhere, or you pay him to go elsewhere or retire (i.e. DFA him and force the retirement). In the end the latter is most beneficial to everybody but Choo.

    • dearmidol

      I get the argument, and if the Rangers are going to totally go into tank mode, it makes total sense.

      Choo has been one of the most productive hitters on the Rangers since he arrived. You’d think they could get something of value for him, especially if they end up eating most of his contract.

    • elkaba

      I agree, and I think Pence might be the better suited to mentor our young OF’s. He’s certainly taken Willie under his wing.

  • WhoKnowscs

    There be real Ranger (Spring Training) Baseball on TV TODAY! Just after 2 O’clock Texas Time(okay CST) on FSSW.

    • CrazyEd

      FoxSportsGo Ap on tablets and phones also.

  • GoRangers23
    • GoRangers23

      13 years. 330 M.

      • CrazyEd

        Wow! That takes him to age 39/40 if he stays healthy! Looks like it was worth it for him to hold out.

        • GoRangers23

          I don’t know why the teams held out if they were just going to throw crazy money at him anyway.

      • JacobMcCandles

        What a waste….

  • CrazyEd

    Interesting outfield. Calhoun, Gallo and Tocci.

  • WhoKnowscs

    3 K inning but then follows it with back 2 back homers and a full count.

  • WhoKnowscs

    Ah spring Training. That score changed fast.

  • CrazyEd

    You keep walking people and that stuff happens.

  • CrazyEd
  • azrangerfan

    If Guzman matures like we hope, he’ll make Moreland a distant memory. Guzman could be real good.

    • JacobMcCandles

      Guzman and Maz were signed on the same day…scouts saying Guzman was the better of the two. Had a personal tragedy which I think set him back some. I saw him play 10 games or so in the Minors..my first thought was his size was too small for a corner infielder. But I also thought Brinson, who played on the same Frisco team was a can’t miss….Ooops

      • Rowdy Yates

        “Too small”? Guzman’s gotta be 6 ft 3 or more and was even when I saw him in the minors. Are you referring to weight because he’s always been a tall drink of water.

        • JacobMcCandles

          Yeah…not height. And he always had a athletic body. Was referring to size that most corner IFers have. Off subject I love his nickname Condor….he has some major “wing” span and makes a fantastic defensive 1B