Every-Thing Sports

Explaining Bill O'Brien's time management skills

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In his six years roaming the sidelines for the Houston Texans, head coach Bill O'Brien has garnered a reputation for his time management skills, or lack thereof. He repeatedly will waste timeouts, not call them, botch end of game/end of half situations, and generally shows a lack of understanding when it comes to situational football. This was particularly apparent when at the end of first half of the Jags game, he held onto two timeouts. When asked about it in the postgame presser, he gave yet another bullshit answer basically saying they executed minus a few missed opportunities on a couple plays.

That was maybe the "toughest" line of questioning O'Brien has faced since coming to Houston. Instead of calling for checks and balances, or even his job, let's try to understand where O'Brien is coming from. Maybe he's just misunderstood? He could be more complex than the thin-skinned arrogant prick we've grown to know and loathe. I've taken a few psychology courses and read a ton of material. Personally, I think I'm qualified to look into what makes O'Brien tick and why he's so bad with time and timeout management. There are several reasons why I think O'Brien may be confused in crunch time. Here's a look into some reasons why he tends to have brain farts:

Playoff Tiebreaker

AJ Hoffman mentioned this on The Blitz that he thinks O'Brien yesterday in hour two that his theory is that O'Brien thinks saving timeouts are a playoff tiebreaker. Giving the way this season is going, he probably thinks piling up timeouts will help his team's chances in a heated playoff race.

#TeamChicFilA

In the great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019, O'Brien is #TeamChicFilA. He must think saving timeouts and wasting clock is a way to earn points on the Chic Fil A app. I'm almost certain he's reached red status by now. However, he must believe that the extra timeouts and/or time clock wasting is earning him points on the app that will lead to rewards, which will give him brownie points with the team when he caters lunch after practice. Popeye's never stood a chance because they didn't have rewards points on their app and ran out of sandwiches.

Cash back on gas

O'Brien does a ton of driving as does most Houston residents when it comes to commuting to and from work. Maybe he's convinced that the timeouts can be converted into gas miles/points he can use. While I can't pinpoint where he lives, one can only imagine that his commute is at least 15-20 minutes like the rest of us. Given that aspect, he's most likely hoarding then to get money back or a discount off his gas when filling up. If he's smart, he'd use Get Upside.

Overrated

O'Brien thinks stopping the clock late in a half or game is overrrated. He's so overly confident in his play-calling abilities, that he has fully convinved himself that calling timeout is overrated. He believes in himself so much, his confidence has outgrown his belief in time itself.

Hoarder

Here's a theory some of you may not have suspected. O'Brien could be a secretive hoarder. It could be on of those situations in which Mrs. O'Brien isn't fully aware of his secretive hoarding. Henceforth, he's always tried to retain timeouts thinking that he will accumulate them and be able to use them later.

Stupid smart

Yet another working observation I've noticed is that he could be so smart, he's a dumbass. Some smarts lack in other areas. O'Brien may be one of us. There are tinmes in which I can't figure out simple things, but I can tell you who blew an assignment or ran a bad route on any given play. O'Brien may be the same way. He's so focused on the macro that he loses track of the micro. Bad combination.

As you can see, we could all be looking at O'Brien the wrong way. Maybe we should be giving him the benfit of the doubt. Maybe we should all be following his lead. Instead, we sit by awaiting his firing while he's busy being the smartest guy on Kirby. Maybe we're all dumbs, and he's a smart? Maybe he has this life thing figured out and we're still stupidly stumbling around looking for answers. I'd hate to live in a world in which O'Brien is the key to life. Wake me up when this nightmare is over.

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The answers in the outfield are becoming clearer than the Astros hoped

*Note: Some Advanced Statistics, courtesy of Baseball Savant, do not include Thursday night's game against the Diamondbacks. Others, courtesy of Fangraphs, do include Thursday night's game*

The Corpus Christi Hooks Twitter account confirmed that Yordan Alvarez is alive and able to take swings, meaning the slugger's return to the Astros lineup is getting closer. Alvarez will get a bulk of the DH at-bats. With Springer being the primary center fielder, and Brantley being the primary left fielder, Dusty Baker will have to choose between Josh Reddick and Kyle Tucker for his primary right fielder. Who should he choose?

How do you boil down picking between two players to one question? What is the most important thing to judge a hitter on? The answer

The better player is the player that does the most damage consistently.

Sounds easy, right? But how do you judge that?

  1. Hard Hit %
  2. BB:K
  3. Contact %

Why these three? Well, hitting the ball hard usually leads to damage, so it is good to hit the ball hard. A player that walks and strikes out roughly the same amount is generally pretty consistent, so BB:K ratios closer to 1:1 (this is extremely rare, and a vast majority of MLB hitters are worse than 1:2) are good. Lastly, players that make contact a lot not only can generally do more of the little things like moving runners over, lifting a ball with a runner on third, or executing a hit & run, but also they generally don't swing and miss at their pitch when they get it. Action happens.

Kyle Tucker has a hard hit % of 38.5% so far in 2020. That is 55th in MLB amongst players with at least 25 batted balls (Tucker has 26). For context, Padres star third baseman Manny Machado is ranked 54th with 38.9%, thorn-in-the-Astros-side Kole Calhoun is t-58th at 37.9%, and Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis leads the big leagues at 66.7% (wow).

So, more than 1/3rd of the time Tucker makes contact, he hits it hard. That's pretty good...But how often does he make contact?

Tucker has a contact % of 75.6%, meaning he makes contact with the baseball three out of every four times he swings the bat. That is 88th amongst qualified hitters. He is 1% worse than the slumping Jose Altuve, tied with that guy Kole Calhoun again, and about 1% better than the also-slumping George Springer. Tucker is far from elite at putting the bat on the ball, but he isn't terrible either.

However, despite hitting baseball's hard one-third of the time and making contact three-thirds of the time, Tucker strikes out entirely too much. His 29.3% K-rate is the 35th worst in baseball, and he doesn't offset the strikeouts with a lot of walks either. Tucker walks just 7.3% of the time, which is the 62nd lowest. Ultimately, Tucker has a BB:K ratio of 0.25, which is 49th in MLB right now.

Lastly, while it isn't part of the criteria above, Tucker doesn't have a very diverse batted ball portfolio. Tucker hits the ball to the pull side 65% of the time, and he's hit it on the ground 50% of the time. Eventually, teams will start placing heavy shifts on him, and those balls that have snuck through holes in the early parts of the year won't anymore.

But, is Josh Reddick any better? While none of Tucker's numbers blow you away, they aren't terrible, and he's a young prospect that needs playing time to develop.

Reddick has a 31.3% hard hit % so far in 2020, about seven percentage points below Tucker. 31.3% places Reddick in 96th place, between players like Marcus Semien and Yuli Gurriel. So, Tucker has Reddick beat here, but it isn't by a landslide.

Reddick has a contact % of 80.5%, which is 50th in MLB right now. He's better than Tucker by 5%, and he's in the top quartile in baseball. Reddick also sprays the ball around when he makes contact, hitting the ball to center field 43.8% of the time, right field 37.5% of the time, and left field 18.8% of the time. His ground ball rate is also 31%, almost 20% lower than Tucker's. That would explain why Reddick and Tucker's Barrel % (hard hit baseballs hit in the most desired exit velocity) are within a percentage point of one another despite Tucker having a seven point hard hit advantage.

Lastly, Reddick doesn't strike out very much. He strikes out 14% of the time, which is the 34th best K% in baseball (funny enough, Gurriel and Brantley are 33rd and 32nd). While Reddick doesn't walk a ton either, he walks more than Tucker, clocking in four percentage points better at 11.6%. That results in a BB:K ratio of 0.83, which is tied with Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman for the 30th best in MLB.

Throw in the fact that Reddick plays significantly better defense, and it's really a no-brainer who should play. Astros fans might want the sexier and newer model in Tucker, but it isn't time to trade in old reliable just yet. When Yordan Alvarez returns, Josh Reddick is the right answer in right field.

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