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Manny Acta And Lastings Milledge

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There was an interesting story in Monday's Washington Post abouit second-year manager Manny Acta.  The gist of the article is Acta manages with the assistance of statistical analysis and a belief in the importance of not giving away outs.

As a result, players do not bunt who are supposed to drive-in runs, and those who cannot successfully steal bases do not run.  The drop in SB attempts from Frank Robinson's club in 2006 to Acta's first season in 2007 was used as an example.  3B Ryan Zimmerman dropped from 11 SB in 2006 to a mere four in 2007.  The reason?  Zimmerman was caught 8 times in 2006 which demonstrated to Acta he should not be attempting as many steals.

This got me thinking about tempering my expectations for 2008 breakout candidate, Lastings Milledge.  Earlier this month, the same newspaper reported Milledge is going to go for 30 steals this season with Acta saying Lastings will have the green light to run as often as he likes - as long as he is successful 75% of the time.

The question I have is what sample size will Acta use before putting the brakes on Milledge.  Will he allow him to run if he is sucessful just three times in his first five attempts (60%)?  What if he is just 7 of 10 (70%)?

The answer to this question will go a long way to determining how great a fantasy season Lastings Milledge has in 2008.  It also provides valuable intelligence for Milledge owners who want to trade Milledge before it is apparent that he will no longer be getting the opportunity to steal 30 bags.

Bonus coverage:
To support WaPo's piece about Acta, here is what Baseball Prospectus 2008 says about Manny Acta:

...Acta was an active manager, leading the majors in relievers used, as well as how often he used them....He also used more pinch-hitters than anyone else except Tony LaRussa, and led the majors in defensive sustitutions.  Unlike most managers who take over a team with little scoring prowess, however, Acta didn't over-invest in one-run strategies.  The players who had some chance of stealing, like [Nook] Logan, ran; everyone else stayed put.  He holstered the hit-and-run for the most part and didn't call for an extraordinary number of bunts.  Where he saw he could have a positive effect - on the pitching staff and the defense - he was active, otherwise, he stayed out of the way.  If Acta could be this effective with the 2007 Nats, one wonders what he might be capable of when he actually has a genuinely good team to manage.  in the meantime, there are few in the dugout as fun to follow.

Translation:  BP loooooooooooooves Manny Acta.