Decision-Execution Gap

I am not a baseball fan or an expert. But a news item caught my eye. The San Francisco Giants lost their ball game yesterday. They lost the ballgame on just one badly executed play, at least according to The San Jose Mercury News, that is the case:

But they could miss the playoffs because they lack another, more embarrassingly basic skill: They can’t get a bunt down.

Summoned just for that purpose in the eighth inning Wednesday, pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen popped up his attempt and the Giants lost 4-2 to the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park.

It does not matter whether or not you know the game, if you believe in evidence based management over fads you will ask the following questions:

  1. Can you attribute the outcome of the whole ballgame or for that matter entire season on just one play?
  2. Is it even the right choice or is it more like a desperate move?
  3. Is there a better option that has a higher expected value than this one?
  4. What is the overall performance of the team, not just in this game but during the entire season?
  5. If the decision itself were absurd, does it matter how it was executed?
  6. Can a manager expect his team to deliver results on a poorly made decision?
  7. What is the general decision making process? Is there data and analysis behind the process? Is there even a process for making decisions?

To answer whether bunting has higher expected value than other options, you should read Michael Lewis’s book  Moneyball. He writes in his book that how bunting is the wrong move in the long run,

“over the long haul it’s a mistake to give away outs for bases”

One move will not change the ballgame by itself as long as the overall decision making process is solid with good execution to follow through. It is not the individual decision or its execution, it is the system, the process and the execution over the long haul that count.

But if you are asking these questions it implies you already practice evidence based management and you would not have picked a risky move and then assign blame to the team that executed it badly.