Over at Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan has organized a couple of polls, the results of which give us a glimpse into what Reds fans think of the people who are running the franchise. Today, Sullivan released the “Complete Team Ownership Ratings,” which is this:
It should be very obvious that we don’t actually know that much about the owners, or about the influences they have, but if nothing else, we have anecdotes, and we have success cycles and payrolls. Follow a team for long enough, and you’ll develop some form of an ownership opinion. I wanted to collect the community opinions.
As you might expect if you spend any time on twitter dot com, the community opinions don’t reflect very well on Bob Castellini and Reds ownership. Reds fans have Castellini and crew ranked 23rd among all MLB ownership teams. To put it another way, only seven fan bases rate their ownership lower.
Last month, Sullivan engaged in a similar project involving big league front offices. In that poll, only four fan bases rated their front office lower than Reds fans: Tigers, Mets, Orioles, and (obviously) Marlins.
It should be noted that this is the second time Sullivan has conducted this polling, and both Reds’ ownership and their front office ranked slightly better among fans this year than they did the last time around. Make of that what you will.
How much utility is there in a project like this? Certainly, it’s interesting data, and fun to parse and argue about. But does it really mean much? After all, if you look at all the graphs and charts, it becomes clear that there’s a huge correlation between how much a team wins and how highly ownership/front offices rank in these polls.
Sullivan addressed that:
Firstly, of course there would be a relationship between success and front-office rating. Front offices are supposed to build winners. Winning teams are more likely to be the result of more good decisions than bad ones. It would look a little strange if this relationship didn’t exist. But, secondly, I assume there’s an element here of results-based analysis. The original question is about evaluating front offices by process. That’s not easy. It’s much easier to evaluate front offices by how things have actually worked out. Winning can justify some bad decisions. Losing can color some good ones.
So you have to factor that in. Five years ago, Cubs and Astros fans, at large, probably would have rated their front offices really poorly. But not today.
Think about it. Were this poll conducted in 2012, when the Reds had just won the NL Central for the second time in three years, the Reds likely would have rated fairly highly in both these polls. But the club has the same ownership group today as then; perhaps we have more data today than we had then (see yesterday’s post), but it’s the same guy at the top.
Similarly, Cincinnati’s front office probably would have ranked very highly back in 2012. But as far as I’m concerned, I’ll take Dick Williams and the front office he’s built over Walt Jocketty every single day, and twice on Sunday. There are sincere criticisms that can be made about Williams, and the jury is ultimately out as to whether he’s a top-shelf general manager or not (or even a mediocre GM), but I’m comfortable in stating that the front office is in better shape now than it was in 2012.
If the Reds don’t make significant progress on the field in the next eighteen months, however…well, I don’t want to consider that.