When last we met in this space, I shared with you the Baseball Skipper Aptitude Test (BSAT), a semi-tongue-in-cheek multiple-choice exam designed to help identify quality managerial candidates based on their approach to such things as lineups, bullpen usage, and in-game strategy. My purpose was primarily to entertain, but a number of readers have asked that we divulge the “correct” answers, or at least the answers to which most Baseball Prospectus authors would subscribe. To that end, earlier this week I took a quick poll to discover how our staff members would answer these questions, and you can find the results below. I’m not surprised to report that some of the questions provoked a wide array of responses, and given the pulsing intellect and contrarian nature of our authors, a fair number chose to occasionally go outside the menu with their answers. .

First, a few caveats. When I was putting the test together, in addition to searching for questions that could be structured to support a Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker groaner or two, I tried to create answer sets not so much to see if a manager would select the optimal answer, but to see if they would avoid the worst answer. Keep this in mind, since sometimes this resulted in several answers being easy to defend as the best. Also, most of the strategy-based questions don’t give anywhere near enough detailed information about team- and game-state to be sure of the best answer, so when I say that more than one answer can be correct, or when a responder states that not enough information is available to choose, that’s certain to be true. And lastly, by no means do I think that any manager who aces this test would be good at the job—on the contrary, my personal suspicion is that the “leader of men” aspects of managing a baseball team are more important over a long season than the tactical side, and no quiz can assess a candidate’s strength in that area.

 Without further ado, here’s how we answered:  

1. A baseball is traveling in a straight line south at 91 mph. Before making impact with a wooden cylinder and rebounding 450 feet due north through a five-mph easterly wind. The man who threw the baseball, a pitcher on your team, has already recorded 14 outs in a must-win game, and your team’s lead has just been trimmed from 6-1 to 6-4. How would you best describe the vector of your travel immediately after this event?

  1. Northeast toward the mound at high velocity to remove the pitcher in favor of a reliever who is already warm
  2. Northeast toward the mound at low velocity to remove the pitcher, giving the reliever a few more much-needed warm-up throws.
  3. Southeast toward the phone at high velocity to call the bullpen to get a reliever up.
  4. Northwest toward the water cooler while your pitching coach visits the mound.
  5. Whichever of the above best maximizes my team’s (as opposed to my starter’s) chance to win this game.

Answers: A: 2    B: 1    C: 0    D: 0    E: 6

My answer was “E.” My point here, of course, is that a manager shouldn’t be wedded to the win statistic in a must-win game, though at least one respondent noted that the answer may very well be different if this isn’t a must-win game—as galling as it sometimes may be that players, fans, and the media can get hung up on pitcher wins, I agree that a good manager shouldn’t summarily ignore the psychological effect pulling a pitcher at this point might have.

2. Please rank the importance of each of these criteria when selecting a “closer”?

  1. Has successfully finished MLB games in the past
  2. Has not unsuccessfully finished MLB games in the past
  3. Is very good at retiring opposing batters
  4. Appears confident and unflappable
  5. Is on your son’s rotisserie team

 Answers: 2 CDABE, 1 CBADE, 1 CABDE, 1 CADBE, 3 C

My answer is CBADE. One respondent said there was no simple answer (which, of course, is true). Of course getting outs is the most important criteria for a closer; after that, there was some disagreement on the relative importance of being a “proven closer” not having failed as a closer, or just seeming to be a person wired to perform well in high-stress situations. I bought into the idea that failing as a closer was as good a proxy as I could find for intestinal fortitude, but a plurality seems to view previous ninth-inning failures as sample-size anomalies rather than a permanent case of the shakes.

3. In which of these situations is it acceptable to bet on a baseball game?

  1. Never
  2. Never
  3. Never
  4. Never
  5. When I’m betting on my own team to win

Answers: Never: 9

No comment needed.

4. It’s May 15 and your organization’s top prospect is a slick-fielding third baseman who’s raking at Triple-A. Your starting third baseman has just injured his wrist and will miss at least six weeks, while your backup third baseman is a career .283/.305/.355 hitter with an average glove. Your team wasn’t expected to contend, but currently sits only two games out of first place. At a post-game press conference, you’re asked if the organization should call up the Triple-A third baseman. How do you respond?

  1. “Naw, the kid still has a few things to work on in the minors. He’s obviously a great talent, though, so we might very well see him sometime later this year.”
  2. “Hellz yes—we need him now!”
  3. “Naw, we’re gonna wait another month or so before calling him up to make sure we get to keep him at a below-market salary for an extra year.”
  4. “That’s not really up to me, but I have to say I like the team we have, and I think we’ll be fine at third base going forward—Johnny is a professional hitter who always gives us good at-bats.”

Answers: A: 1    B: 1    C: 0    D: 7

My answer was “D.” Several respondents essentially answered that they were thinking “C” but would answer “D” in the press conference. I’d love to hear an actual manager give answer “C” just to find out how fans and the media would react. Would they applaud the honesty? And if I were the GM, how would I feel about it? I confess that I’m not completely sure.

The respondent who said “A” pre-supposed that the kid really did have something to work on, and the “B” answer wanted the organization’s best players on the field—both defensible in their own way.

5. Intentional Walks are to Winning Baseball as Water is to:

  1. Fish
  2. Swimming Pools
  3. Cacti
  4. Raw Sodium

Answers: A: 0    B: 2    C: 4    D: 2    Land: 1

My answer was “C,” in line with the plurality. I think there are appropriate times for the intentional pass, e.g., bottom of the ninth, tie score, runner on second, two outs, great hitter at the plate, terrible hitter on deck, no pinch-hitters available. Thus I don’t think the IBB and winning baseball are as combustible a mixture as sodium and water. But as anyone watching Joltless Joe during the ALCS can attest, continually relying on the free pass can be like picking at a scab—keep doing it, and you’re certain to leave a scar.

6. Below are the batting lines for several of your players. Which of them would you be most likely to bat leadoff?

  1. .280/.350/.420, 20 SB
  2. .270/.365/.420, 10 SB
  3. .290/.320/.350, 40 SB
  4. .280/.400/.420, 0 SB
  5. Not sure what those second and third numbers are

 Answers: A: 0  B: 3  C: 0  D: 6

My answer was “B,” and many respondents wisely added that their choice depends quite considerably on the rest of the lineup. The majority plumped for the highest OBP (and likely highest TAv) of the four options at the top of the order, and that may well be the best answer. Personally, though, I’d bat that guy second assuming the other guy is a better baserunner and might score on a few more two-out hits. Some might ask why we should even worry about this, since batting order doesn’t account for much over the course of a season. My response would be that (a) it’s just as easy to get this right as to get it wrong; (b) in a single game it might make all the difference in the world who gets an extra at-bat when; and (c) few things annoy me as much as speedy out-makers in the leadoff spot, and if I’m the GM I’m not going to hire a manager that does that. Period. 

7. Please circle each situation in which you would never let your closer pitch:

  1. Any non-save situations
  2. When our team is trailing
  3. In the eighth inning
  4. In the seventh inning
  5. In the fourth inning

Answers: A: 0  B: 0  C: 0  D: 0  E: 9

I guess this can be taken as a loud indictment of current closer usage patterns and support for using your best pitcher in the highest-leverage situations, and I don’t expect to get too much argument about this ‘round these parts.

8. Please fill in the blanks with the selection below that you feel best completes this sentence: Pitch counts are ___________and should be used ______________.

  1. useful / to determine when a pitcher is likely to lose effectiveness
  2. pointy-headed nonsense / to sop up spilled energy drinks
  3. often given too much weight / as only one of many factors that help determine when a pitcher is becoming dangerously fatigued
  4. necessary to keep pitchers healthy / to ensure pitchers never throw more than their pre-determined pitch limit

Answers: A: 2  B: 0  C: 7  D: 0

I answered “C,” as did the majority. I suspect the Murray Chasses of the world would find it surprising that a bunch of propeller-heads don’t worship at the altar of pitch-count orthodoxy (if there is such a thing), but you, Gentle Reader, know better than that. The consensus here seems to be that pitch counts are useful information both to help avoid injury and ensure pitchers depart before losing too much effectiveness, but can be a pretty blunt instrument and aren’t the one-stop-shop some purport them to be.

9. Which of these movies best exemplify your leadership style, and why?

  1. Bridge On The River Kwai
  2. Master and Commander
  3. Saving Private Ryan
  4. Twelve Angry Men
  5. Independence Day

Answers: A: 1  B: 0  C: 0  D: 3  E: 2  N/A: 2  Godfather Part II: 1

My answer was “D,” while two authors left this one blank. No clear consensus here, of course, but the most common response from our sabermetric panel involved Henry Fonda’s quiet but insistent appeals to open-mindedness and logic over the knee-jerk judgments and ingrained prejudices of his fellow jurors. Wonder why that is. Oh, and if your name is Fredo and your brother writes for us, here’s a word of advice: don’t go fishing.

10. After a series of meetings in a small conference room at our spring training facility in Florida, a staff member approaches you to say that several meeting attendees had been complaining about your bench coach’s unpleasant body odor. What do you do?

  1. Nothing
  2. Speak privately to the bench coach about the situation
  3. Inform the general manager of the situation, since you are not the bench coach’s immediate supervisor

Answers: A: 1  B: 7  C: 1

My answer was “B.” Obviously there’s no deep insight to be gained here—I just put this in because I’ve literally been asked this question on nearly every job examination I’ve ever taken.

11. At what rate must basestealers generally be successful to make their attempted steals beneficial?

  1. 50%
  2. 60%
  3. 70%
  4. 80%
  5. Depends on the player

Answers: A: 0  B: 0  C: 3.5  D: 2 C/D: 3  E: 0.5

My answer was “D”—the “standard” answer is 75 percent, so I chose high since I hate it when my team makes outs on the bases. Our astute authors know this, of course, so the largest number actually noted that the answer should be somewhere between “C” and “D.” Several respondents noted that this is only true overall, not in a given situation, and I heartily concur.

12. What do you think of the Expected Runs Matrix?

  1. Thought those movies were self-indulgent, pseudo-spiritual crap
  2. Heard of it but don’t use it
  3. Have a copy on a clipboard in the dugout to help in-game decision making
  4. Have a rough idea of it in my head, but adjust it based on batter, runner, and gut-feel

Answers: A: 0  B: 1  C: 3.5  D: 4.5

My answer was “D,” as was the majority. Many of the comments I received indicated that knowing the Expected Runs Matrix is important but not a point-and-click guide to baseball strategy, and when reading the answer again I think both “C” and “D” are saying the same thing, with “C” merely placing a physical manifestation of the numbers at the manager’s fingertips. Note also that I suspect the author who answered “B” either mistyped or was playing with my head.

13. Circle each situation in which you feel it might be appropriate to authorize bunting, depending on inning and score:

  1. Pitcher batting, runner on first, no outs
  2. Cesar Izturis batting, runner on first, no outs
  3. Home games on the Fourth of July
  4. Any non-pitcher batting, runner on second, no outs

Answers: A: 9  B: 2  C: 1  D: 1

My answer was “A,” which was almost unanimous. One author also said “B, sparingly,” and another said a situation could occur where any of them are worthwhile, but rarely. If there’s any BP groupthink to be found here, it’s in our common loathing of the inappropriate sacrifice bunt. Junior circuit managers, repeat 10 times after me: trading an out for a base is like trading a diamond for a potato. Sure, there may come a time when you need to do it, but not as a matter of course.

14. How important is on-base percentage for sluggers who aren’t very fast? Circle all that you feel apply:

  1. Very important
  2. Somewhat important
  3. Much less important than it is for fast players, Joe
  4. Much less important than their batting average, Joe
  5. Totally unimportant

Answers: A: 7  B: 2  C: 1  D: 0  E: 0

My answer was “A,” as was the majority. Choosing “B” over “A” likely was an acknowledgement that speed isn’t insignificant, an easily defensible choice when choosing between indefinite wiggle words such as very and somewhat. One author who chose “A” also chose “a little C” for similar reasons. For those who have asked me why I ended answers “C” and “D” in that way, you can find your answer here.

15. If you had Neftali Feliz on your team, can you envision a situation where you might let him pitch in the eighth inning to help stop a rally and protect a lead in a playoff game?

  1. Yes
  2. No

Answers: A: 9  B: 0

No comment needed.

16. There are two outs and a runner on second, and your team is down a run in the bottom of the ninth. The opponents have their right-handed closer, Lester Leviathan, on the mound, and you are about to pinch-hit for your own pitcher. On the bench you have Player X, a right-handed batter whose season and career numbers are approximately .280/.350/.440; and Player Y, a left-handed batter whose season and career numbers are approximately .260/.310/.380. Player X is 1-for-8 with a double and two strikeouts versus Leviathan; Player Y is 5-for-8 with two doubles and a strikeout versus Leviathan. Who would you use to pinch-hit?

  1. Depends on the platoon splits of Lester Leviathan
  2. Depends on the platoon splits of Player X and Player Y
  3. Both A and B
  4. Clearly Player X
  5. Clearly Player Y
  6. The player which has had the most clutch hits for me so far this year

 Answers: A: 1  B: 0  C: 4  D: 3  E: 1

My answer was “D.” This question, not surprisingly, generated the most answer-‘splainin’ of the entire quiz, with many responders saying there needs to be more information to give a solid answer. The crux of the decision, I think, comes down to sample sizes: at what point can we convince ourselves that a player is so good/bad against a certain type of pitcher that we’d let an overall inferior batter hit ahead of an overall better one? I’ve written before that I believe platoon differences and batter/pitcher matchup data are sometimes given shorter shrift then they deserve by the stathead community, so it may surprise some that I’d automatically choose the better overall hitter here instead of considering those other factors. My reasoning is that the guy with the .690 career OPS is such a lousy hitter that I can’t imagine those other factors outweighing his overarching suckitude. Others may (and did) disagree. If I were actually giving this test to a prospective manager, I’d be less interested in hearing what choice the manager made than the thought process he used.

17. After a tough loss, what word best describes how you would likely respond to an insinuating question about a tough managerial decision late in the game?

  1. Gruff
  2. Imperious
  3. Dismissive
  4. Combative
  5. Sullen

Answers: A: 2  B: 1  C: 1  D: 1  E: 3  C or D: 1

My answer was “A.” Surprisingly, not a single respondent went off-menu and volunteered something like “magnanimous” or “patient.” I guess you can’t accuse us of not being self-aware.

18. Which of the following images best represents how you feel when you think of the word “rookie”?

A.     B.   C.      D. 

Answers: A: 1  B: 0  C: 4  D: 3  C and A: 1

My answer was “C.” Other than noting that many of us are “Simpsons” fans, the lesson here is that our authors are quite supportive of playing rookies. It’s fair to ask, though, if I’d have a different opinion if I actually had to put my financial future partially in the hands of some kid with an anarchy symbol tattooed on his backside.

19. How would you rate the relative importance of clubhouse chemistry and player talent in assembling a winning ballclub?

  1. Only talent is important
  2. Talent is somewhat more important than chemistry
  3. Talent and chemistry are roughly equal
  4. Chemistry is somewhat more important than talent
  5. Only chemistry is important

Answers: A: 2  B: 6  C: 0  D: 0  E: 0  A/B: 1

My answer was “B.” The majority of our sample feels that chemistry has some significance, but talent is baseball’s trump card. No argument from me.

20. What name do you plan to call an umpire when you feel the need to be kicked out of a game to motivate your team?

  1. #$**%#@#
  2. $@#**
  3. Blue-&@##$
  4. Cowboy $%#&* Joe
  5. Ke$ha

Answers: A: 2  B: 1  C: 0  D: 4  E: 2

My answer was “E.” Several authors chose to tell me what the excised words should be, often citing Bull Durhamthat’s why we never publish our internal e-mails in unedited form.

Thank you for reading

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In response to #14 and to the use and awareness of OBP and other stats in general, I went back and read your article "Behind the Scenes at Fox" from Aug 2009. Why is it that y'all at BP expect others to do what YOU'RE not willing to do? We switched two leagues I was in from BA to OBP in 2001, and I swore in 2003 that I would never play in another BA fantasy league (once Sportsline had OBP in play). Still, the BP people play in BA leagues along with the people from Rototimes, Bbl HQ, Rotowire, Sportsline, and many others. NO ONE will stand up. Tim McCarver and Bill Macheska are dinosaurs, and sometimes one is amazed that McCarver actually played the game. However, reading Macheska's least he has cajones regarding his beliefs. What's between the legs at BP is hypocrisy. If even one guy had the guts to take the position that he would no longer play in a so-called "expert" league that used BA, the rest would probably follow. The "experts" have two primary characteristics: (1) they preach one thing and don't practice it at all, and (2) they follow one another like sheep. So they might actually follow a human leader. Step up, Ken, if you really believe OBP is a better stat than BA. Believe me, it is. No one of the 60 or 70 guys in leagues in which I've led the conversion has ever expressed wanting to go back to BA.
A couple things to say in response: 1) Personally, I haven’t played stat-based fantasy baseball for years – I spent a few years in the nineties in a standard rotisserie league (using batting average, of course), but now all I play is sim baseball, specifically Strat, because I enjoy it more. Personal preference. Because of this, I don’t play in any of the “expert” leagues, and I doubt I’m very high on any list of potential invitees. If elected, I will not serve. 2) I don’t claim to speak either for BP or for the BP authors who play fantasy baseball or participate in expert leagues. However, if I were to play in them it would be because they’re fun, they have some history, and they’re (for want of a better word) prestigious. I can understand why someone might want to play in a fantasy league that once included, say, Peter Gammons and Bill James. Those leagues were founded using BA, and I wouldn’t expect them to change. 3) As you may have seen, Clay Davenport’s team won his LABR league this year. Personally, I have a hard time thinking that Clay, who over the years has invented enough new advanced statistical acronyms to supply a kegerator full of alphabet soup, doesn’t understand or is unwilling to stand up and loudly support the position that OBP is a better measure of batting value than BA. BP has published, and continues to publish, books that continually hammer that (and many other) points home; this website makes those same points every day; BP analysts say those same things on the radio, on TV, and in print. Doing those things likely does more to further the cause of smarter baseball analysis than, say, boycotting Tout Wars. If playing in those leagues somehow paints a stat-savvy analyst as being somehow ideologically impure in your eyes, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion -- but it’s not an opinion I can share. There are far bigger arguments to win, and far larger arenas in which to win them. 4) Let’s not lose sight of what we’re talking about here: a game. While games can be educational tools, that isn’t their sole purpose, and in many cases, especially in something like rotisserie which isn’t meant to be a simulation, it isn’t even close to being its primary purpose. I can enjoy playing Settlers of Catan, and chuckle over the fact that you need to use sheep as a component to build a bridge without fear that the game may undermine someone’s understanding of structural engineering. I can play card games with my daughter absent any fear that ranking kings ahead of queens will undermine her sense of gender equity (unless we’re playing sheepshead, where queens are more powerful). Seriously, I understand your point, but I think your arguments lack a little perspective.
The amusing part of your post is that despite your obvious ire, you still shell out subscription money. And you call THEM the hypocrites. For shame!
Not having seens all of the movies in your leadership question, can you give a brief description of the leadership style each one posesses? Thanks.
Briefly, here's what I was thinking when I chose those films, though others may have very different opinions. Independence Day -- Bill Pullman as the president flying into combat ahead of his troops is leadership by doing, or leadership by example. 12 Angry Men -- Henry Fonda slowly and stubbornly working to bring his fellow jurors around is leadership by building consensus. Saving Private Ryan -- Tom Hanks is a hands-on leader here like Pullman, but it's much more personalized and chummier. He's more of a player's manager. Master And Commander -- Russell Crowe's ship captain is a true autocrat -- a benevolent one, perhaps, but an autocrat nonetheless. He's viewed as a winner by his crew, however, and they trust him to keep them alive and bring them victory. Bridge On The River Kwai -- Alec Guinness doggedly keeps his regiment alive in captivity through discipline and hard work, even if that work aids the enemy. He embodies single-minded, almost blind, determination to complete a task. David Lean rightly sets this up as a paradox, of course.
I thought Saving Private Ryan was something along the lines 'Of the greater good." Hank's role seemed to be immersion in a role counter to his previous experience - which seemed to fit the idea of the non-star leading a team. 12 Angry Men offered 12 choices and only 11 of them were all that angry.
Harry Potter: Dumbledore is a leader who is somewhat distant from his charges, and generally leads from afar. Except, when the circumstances demand it, he is willing to let himself be ejected for the good of the team.
Thanks for doing this, Ken.
This is worthy of becoming a regular feature, perhaps with periodic calls for subscriber submissions of questions? You could wind up with an ace illustration of, well, Skipper Attitude? Ken, thanks for doing the work to make this interesting.
Here in NY, I keep hearing-from the media-that the most important qualification for a Mets' manager is Media Relations, followed by being fiery and getting fans excited. Somewhat further down on the list are qualities that could be explored by the questions here.
Y'know, I agree that the in-game strategy and roster usage questions are probably less important to a manager's overall success than other factors. Media relations is important, but being "entertaining" probably isn't -- fans would be plenty excited to watch a winning team managed by an umbrella stand. It's really the leadership part, i.e., getting players to feel comfortable, work hard, play smart, and maintain their cool under stress, that I suspect is the most important part of the job.
Though of course the media would think being fiery and exciting fans are important qualifications -- those stories are easier and more fun to write and discuss.
Re Question 1: If the ball were travelling south, the pitcher would be throwing to first base, where it is unlikely to make contact with anything wooden. It is much more likely that the ball is travelling west and after contact heads east.