First Impressions of Tim Bogar
By Ben Perry
Sep 7, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers interim manager Tim Bogar (27) looks on during the third inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Given Ron Washington’s abrupt departure from the manager’s position, Tim Bogar has received an opportunity to step into a new role for the last few weeks of the 2014 season. The Rangers are sure to make a thorough and calculating decision sometime this offseason in hopes of finding a quality manager, but for the time being Bogar has a chance to showcase his ability.
Bogar is already a candidate for the position; his nearly month-long audition this September will give him the unique chance to get a step ahead of the other options that the Rangers might have. Wins and Losses don’t mean much considering the situation he is stepping into, but his ability to squeeze the most out of his limited roster will be watched closely.
Differences between Bogar and his predecessor Washington are already clear. For one, Washington made less room for sabermetrics and empirical statistics in his managing approach. This allowed him to develop a strong sense of confidence in his own choices and led to a sharpened set of instincts for managing a team. After well more than three decades in baseball, Washington had a good idea of how to lead a team and put a good group on the field.
Bogar also has good confidence in himself and will aim to develop a strong relationship with his players in a similar fashion to that of Washington. But Bogar also relies more heavily on the numbers behind his players; I believe this will give him a better chance to cut out inefficiencies in the everyday lineup and perhaps utilize the bullpen in a different manner as well.
Last night’s lineup against the Angels was a good example of what might become a typical Bogar lineup structure for the rest of the way this year. The lineup went as follows:
Martin, L, CF
Beltre, A, 3B
Here are a few points I have regarding this lineup:
- Leonys Martin is batting leadoff, a position that Bogar aims to put Martin in nearly full time against both right and left handed pitchers. Ron Washington was relatively conservative with younger players and putting them in high-leverage parts of the order, but Bogar is committed to putting Martin in a situation where he can prove himself immediately. Martin is hitting .352 this season in the leadoff spot so from a statistical standpoint, Bogar is making the informed decision by giving him an extended look in that slot.
- Andrus is hitting second here, that is no surprise given he typically does hit at the top of the order. What is a surprise was Andrus’ two consecutive days off recently. To me, the biggest takeaway from his absence from the lineup was not Andrus’ actual absence but Bogar’s explanation and justification. Since Andrus reached the majors, he has always been slightly more subject to scrutiny under Ron Washington; if Andrus performed poorly for a stretch, Wash usually responded in some way or another whether by speaking to his shortstop or adjusting his spot in the lineup. Bogar downplayed Andrus’ time out of the lineup, in my opinion, very effectively. He did not make a big deal of his decision, cited Andrus’ season long aches and pains, and his interest in getting Luis Sardinas some reps. Part of a managers job is killing drama. Joe Torre was terrific at it while in New York and so was Terry Francona in Boston; those managers could handle a plethora of highly-paid players with all sorts of egos while keeping most of the clubhouse’s issues away from the media. Bogar might be slightly more adept at this than Washington, but it is still too early to say for sure.
- Rougned Odor is hitting third. This is a move Ron Washington never would have made. But I believe this move makes sense for a couple reasons. First, Odor has good natural ability and considerable extra-base hit potential (41 doubles last year in the minors, 23 extra base hits this season). Odor bats left-handed and splits up Andrus hitting second and Beltre hitting fourth, too. Despite being just 20 years old, Odor has shone poise this season and at this point he is playing in as low stress a situation as there is in the majors: the Rangers have already played so poorly for one, Odor has already proven over the course of several months that he can hang with the competition, and there are only three weeks in the season left anyway. Last, Adrian Beltre is now protecting Odor in the lineup, considering Beltre’s presence is just about the only dangerous one in the Rangers lineup, Odor will have a good chance to see some fastballs over the next three weeks and have a legitimate opportunity to do something with them.
- Bogar shows again that he goes by numbers more heavily by putting Adam Rosales in the five-hole behind Beltre. Washington most often had Rosales hitting sixth through eighth. Despite Rosales’ relatively advanced age and journeyman label, Bogar acknowledges that he is the next best hitter in the Rangers lineup this year and put up quality numbers in AAA and with Texas. For that, he slides Rosales up, appropriately too in my opinion.
- Telis and Rua follow Rosales in the order filling out the sixth and seventh spots, respectively. Here, Bogar puts his rookies higher up in the lineup regardless of experience (or lack thereof) and lets their projected hitting ability make the decision for him. Washington would have given more clout to a player’s experience in his decision making process, that is why J.P. Arencibia hit most often 5th-7th in Washington’s lineups and rookies slid down in the order.
- Arencibia and Choice fill out the order in the 8th and 9th spots for Bogar. They each have some decent pop with 9 homeruns each in a season where they have had limited at-bats. Still, Bogar seems to know that a sub-.200 batting average dictates that a player hits at the bottom of the order regardless of their power potential. In a game where the top of your lineup is best, turning that lineup over is key and J.P. Arencibia frankly has no business hitting toward the center with such poor on-base skills. By respecting the crucial statistic OBP Bogar puts these two last without considering their handedness, power, experience or anything else, and I think that is the right move to make.
One lineup is simply a crude microcosm of a manager’s ability and strategic planning. But the immediate differences in lineups between Washington and Bogar are intriguing. Still, Washington’s value came predominantly from his relationship with his players, the mutual trust and respect, and resulting sense of unity. Bogar will have to prove himself in more ways than one to be the Rangers next full-time manager. We will all have to simply wait and see how his relationship with the Rangers unfolds.