Ranking Kirk Gibson and Every Manager in D-Backs History
It all began with Buck Showalter.
In addition to the logistical issues of constructing a $238 stadium downtown and establishing business model for a state previously familiar only with spring-time baseball, Colangelo and the Suns group had been tasked with the responsibility of fielding a successful team with capable front office staff, including a powerful field manager.
No. 6: Al Pedrique
Tenure: 2004 (Named Interim Manager on 7/2/04)
Career Record: 22-61 (.265)
After winning the World Series in 2001, the Arizona Diamondbacks had nowhere to go but down—literally and figuratively. Accordingly and two-plus seasons of diminishing returns, Arizona released its World Sereis skipper, installing third base coach Al Pedrique as interim manager in early July 2004.
For Pedrique, it would be his only stint as Major League manager, compiling just a .265 winning percentage and guiding the 2004 Diamondbacks to a dismal 51-111 finish, a franchise-worst and dead last in the NL West. Prior to Pedrique, the Diamondbacks had not finished lower than third in the division since their inaugural season.
Not surprisingly, Pedrique remains the least cherished D-Backs manager.
No. 5: A.J. Hinch
Career Record: 89-123 (.420)
The youngest manager in Diamondbacks history, A.J. Hinch assumed his role at the age of 34 early in the 2009 season, having spent seven seasons as a player with Oakland, Kansas City, Detroit and Philadelphia.
A fiery skipper, Hinch was ejected five times during his managerial career, in what would appear to be an ill-fated attempt at inspiring his players.
Whatever the excuse—his youth, inexperience or lack of chemistry—it did not work as Hinch's 2010 Diamondbacks ran off to a 31-48 (.392) record after finishing the 2009 season as 70-92 (.432) cellar-dwelling NL Westerners.
No. 4: Bob Melvin
Career Record: 337-340 (.498)
Unlike Al Pedrique and A.J. Hinch, D-Backs skipper Bob Melvin had Major League managerial experience when he assumed the role prior to the 2005 season, having presided over 324 contests with the Seattle Mariners from 2003-2004.
After guiding the 2007 Diamondbacks to their first postseason since 2002, Melvin was named NL Manager of the Year, having turned a 2006 fourth-place 76-86 squad into a first-place 90-72 NLCS competitor, although the Diamondbacks lost to the Colorado Rockies for the pennant.
Nonetheless, Melvin's overall record with Arizona fell three games short of .500, thanks to a quick second-to-fifth turnaround from 2008 (82-80) to 2009 (70-92).
No. 3: Buck Showalter
Career Record: 250-236 (.514)
A career manager, 1994 AL Manager of the Year Buck Showalter was tabbed to guide the brand-new Major League baseball team in the desert during the Diamondbacks' inaugural 1998 season.
Though the squad put up a bleak 65-97 record in 1998, Showalter had turned it all around one year later, as Arizona recorded its first 100-win season in 1999 en route to a 3-1 NLDS loss to the New York Mets.
With Randy Johnson and Luis Gonzalez leading the way, Showalter had an impressive roster to work with, but unfortunately, he could not match his .539 winning percentage from his four years with the New York Yankees.
Showalter was dismissed after the Diamondbacks regressed to a third-place 85-77 record in 2000.
No. 2: Kirk Gibson
Career Record: 170-160 (.515)
After concluding a tremendous playing career that saw Kirk Gibson as the recepient of an ALCS MVP, NL MVP and Silver Slugger Award, the former Tigers and Dodgers great turned to coaching, joining the Detroit bench in 2003 before transferring to Arizona in 2007.
Named manager in the wake of A.J. Hinch's mid-2010 departure, Kirk Gibson returned to Arizona in 2011 to pick up where he had left off—in 2010, Gibson's Diamondbacks finished dead last in the NL West before turning it all around in 2011 with a first-place 94-68 record. For his efforts, Gibson also received the 2011 NL Manager of the Year Award.
Though the Diamondbacks are presently third in the 2012 NL West, their recent pre-All-Star 3-1 series win over the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers has proven Arizona's meddle and determination to compete this season.
Just four games back of L.A. and 3.5 behind the equally-sputtering San Francisco Giants, the Diamondbacks are just one game below .500 and in excellent position to make a second-half push akin to last year's.
Nonetheless, Gibson is missing just one thing that separates himself from the greatest manager in franchise history.
No. 1: Bob Brenly
Career Record: 303-262 (.536)
After Buck Showalter left the organization, former Giants catcher and corner infielder Bob Brenly was called upon to fill the void and somehow recapture whatever had propelled Arizona to a 100-62 record in 1999.
Fortunately for Diamondbacks fans, that didn't take long.
With a first place finish in the 2001 NL West, Brenly's Diamondbacks won the first and only World Series in franchise history, defeating veteran skipper Joe Torre's powerhouse New York Yankees in a seven game series that came to a dramatic finish on a Luis Gonzalez walk-off single in front of the home fans.
Since that championship, Brenly's D-Backs improved on their record in 2002 before falling in the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals. After a third-place finish in 2003 and 29-50 start in 2004, Brenly was replaced, ending the tenure of the greatest manager in Diamondbacks history.