No one will make the argument that either Ruben Amaro Jr or Charlie Manuel were great baseball players, though they did play a combined 14 years in the major leagues. Neither was an everyday player so it is difficult to compare them to other players, and their use as pinch hitters and replacements greatly skew their per/162 game numbers.
Here are their career slash lines:
Amaro – .235/.310/.353
Manuel – .198/.273/.260
But what is more interesting to me is what they were like in their peak year.
Amaro (1992) – 427 PA, 7HR, .219/.303.348, 37 BBs, 54 SOs (though on small sample size his 1996 season line of .316/..380/.453 over 130 plate appearance is pretty good) – Delmon Young’s highest amount of walks in a season is 35
Manuel (1969 – rookie year) – 194 PA, 2 HR .207/.320/.280, 28 BBs, 33 SOs
This got me wondering, did these two players have as good plate discipline as it appears they do? career BB% (with the MLB average) and K% (with MLB average) are below:
Amaro – 8.4% (8.8%) BB%, 12.2% (16.0%) K%
Manuel – 9.3% (8.8%) BB%, 17.8% (14.1%) K%
Though neither were exceptional both drew walks at a good rate and especially Amaro did not strike out at a high rate. Neither made good contact at the major league level with low career BABIPs of .255 (Amaro) and .233 (Manuel) and neither had exceptional power.
Just for fun I looked at their minor league careers, it is very clear that the stats for Manuel are utterly unreliable (for some reason minor league stats in the 60s weren’t tracked well). Amaro has an immense minor league career to look at but for fun here are his years leading up to his major league debut:
1987 : age 22 : A- : 306 PAs, .282/.409/.373, 49 BBs, 28 SOs
1988 : age 23 : A-AA : 573 PAs, .257/.410/.328, 109 BBs, 66 SOs
1989 : age 24 : A-AA : 375 PAs, .368/.466/.523, 52 BBs, 44 SOs
1990 : age 25 : AA -AAA : 639 PAs, .317/.407/.448, 69 BBs, 66 SOs
1991 : age 26 : AAA : 552 PAs, .326/.411/.460. 63 BBs, 48 SOs (made debut for Angels) – Amaro hit 42 2Bs in AAA that year
Just for a second think about if Amaro was in the system right now. How would we evaluate him as a prospect? Now add to that he was playing both 2B and the OF, but could sub at SS, C, or 1B in a pinch. There would be a Twitter campaign of “Free Amaro” and articles about his plate discipline. Over his entire minor league career Amaro had 439/387 BB/K rate which is quite exceptional for a player without good power.
So this all matters very little, the question is just how did a player who relied so much on the walk come to despise it so much? Giving little thought to advanced metrics there should be a connection between the player and the General Manager of a major league franchise. As for Manuel, he was never the prolific hitter that Amaro was but he certainly saw the value of a walk during his playing days.