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Stats Geeks {HEART} Manny Acta

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So Todd Jacobson teased this interesting bit earlier today:

Acta's a bit of a stathead, combining the wealth of info out there with throwback scouting. He uses stats more than Frank Robinson did last year, which means he won't be bunting guys from first to second early in the games. More on this later, but for those sabermetricians out there, it's interesting news.

Keep in mind I'm no sabermetrician; I'm simply not smart enough for that. But I know some sabermetricians. Well, not really; I guess I don't know 'em even in an online sense. Okay, I read some sabermetrics stuff and find it intellectually edifying when distributed in appropriate doses.

Anyway, this got my attention, obviously. I just finished watching (WARNING: VIDEO) Acta's press conference, and sure enough . . .

Hey, I just noticed Banks of the Anacostia was kind enough to transcribe the thing. I'm not going to bogart JammingEcono's fine work by blockquoting the exact words he worked so hard on transcribing, but I will post a quick summary of what Acta said:

  • I'm not going to do something as dumb as basing major decisions on five at-bat samples.
  • A guy is more likely to score from first with no one out than from second with one out, so if you ask me to bunt early in games, I'm going to beat your face in.
  • Lots of unnecessary caught stealings are bad; I'm not going to slit my wrists, strategically speaking, just so some morons will appreciate my aggressiveness.
Man, Acta really knows how to make statheads' spreadsheet feel all tingly. No joke: My Excel program just told me it was in love. Down, boy; Manny's a married man.

Seriously, though, Acta presents himself as an eminently reasonable modern manager. He's confident yet inquisitive, open-minded yet self-assured. He projects a certain ying and yang---on the one hand, take-charge in an old-school way while on the other hand fluent in the language of today's Information Age. What he does in the dugout remains to be seen, of course, but he shows promise of presenting a laudable synthesis. No one wants Captain Regression managing your team (at least I hope not), but I don't think I'd want to see a gut-level relic in the hot seat either.

Check that---we've already been through the latter. No disrespect to Frank Robinson intended, course.

When Acta was hired, I predicted he would never see substantial success with the Nats. I still hold to that prediction. There's an enormous gap from Here to There, so to speak, and it's probably so great that one man cannot bridge it. But I also predicted Acta would play and integral role in the development of this franchise, and I certainly still hold to that today. The Washington Nationals could not have made a better choice in a manager. And that's not just because Acta is kind of a stathead of sorts.

But I'm not holding that against him, either, if you know what I mean.