Nationals manager Jim Riggleman just finished the first year of his two-year contract, but the second year can be bought out for $100,000 now that the season is over. Yet, next season Riggleman will only make $700,000, so the question really is, which is the better deal?
Similar to an analysis which focuses primarily on walks, strikeouts, and hit dispersion (ground ball%, lind drive%, fly ball%, etc.), an analysis of managers should consider only the things a manager can control, such as intentional walks allowed, stolen base attempts, bunt attempts, the players on the field at any given time, and positioning. These latter two categories would involve some play-by-play analysis which I just don't have abilities to do right now. We can to some extent, however, investigate the first three categories.
If you've read Baseball Between the Numbers, then you know that walks are never good and that intentional walks are even worse-in the latter case you didn't even try to get the batter out. The analysis mostly comes from the run-expectancy table which lists every possible scenario in a baseball game and the runs that have scored on average from the time that situation occurred to the end of the inning. As you can see, putting a man on never seems to help.
But you might argue that the intentional walk could be a good idea if the person being walked is as good as, say, Barry Bonds in his prime. But even then, unless you are an extreme risk-taker (which is not good for your health), it is still a bad idea to issue the free pass.
I can still imagine some situations where the intentional walk could help (bases empty, 1 out, 8th batter is up, pitcher hits 80% ground balls and runs like molasses) but in most cases it is a destructive play. Our man Riggleman called for the intentional walk more often than all but three other managers this year.
The stolen base is one of the more controversial plays in baseball, but sabermetricians are not as rigid in their condemnation in the stolen base as you may think. If we reference the run-expectancy table, we can see that advancing a man without giving up an out is always a good play. The problem is, however, that making an out far outweighs the gain of making a successful steal. Additionally the other supposed gains of stealing bases ("making things happen," throwing off the defense, yadda yadda yadda) are minimal if not detrimental; for instance, batters seem to actually do worse after a successful steal.