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Dock of the Rays on Joe Maddon

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"Good Manager, Better Man"

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Friend-of-the-site Jason Hanselman runs the blog Dock of the Rays. On it, he consistently provides fresh, thorough statistical analysis. It's fact-based writing that needs to be a part of any informed conversation about the Rays. That's why, from time to time, I'm going to start featuring his work here. I'll give you a teaser. Go read the full thing on the Dock, and then circle back to discuss it here.

From Good Manager, Better Man:

While, [Lou Piniella] would ultimately get three years here, no where near long enough to turn a truly terrible team into a contender, he does give us a very interesting with our current outgoing manager, Joe Maddon. I’ve avoided talking about the man, the myth, the legend to this point, but it can be put off no longer. Everyone that got to watch this guy on a daily basis for the last nine years should have a hole in their soul that wasn’t there before. Call that love. Call that spirit. Call that friendship. He was an unflappable symbol for perseverance and patience.

. . .

Then 2008 happened. The prior season saw a team take a big step forward, but a historically bad bullpen, and it’s intrinsically linked, equally terrible defense sunk a ship that was just waiting for the right wind to come. In 2008 the Rays caught their breeze, fixing their bullpen and putting a focus on defense, while supplementing and supporting what was a very good offense to begin with.

Since then, Maddon has been the one constant as names and faces leave in seemingly the blink of an eye. Truly, the wheel in the sky keeps on turning, and for the Rays and their fans that meant learning to live with disappointment. Don’t get too accustomed to your favorite player. He probably won’t be here much longer. Maybe get a shirsey with the Rays logo on the front, but no name on the back. Get more mileage out of that puppy. The thing is, it’s not hard to see how the Rays were adding talent and getting better and better even with payroll fluctuations. Here’s a look at annual WAR for both pitchers (P) and hitters (H):

But the kicker is this graph:

Read the full thing here to know what it means.