For those of you that read my articles on a consistent basis you are probably scratching your head at the title of this one. As a matter of fact, I even find myself scratching my own head regarding it.
But for all of the Dusty Baker bashing that I have so proudly been a part of, I must also give credit where credit is due. Baker heads a club that is battling it out for home-field advantage during the playoffs.
Let's rephrase that—the Reds aren't in a fight to make the playoffs, but rather a fight for top dawg in the National League. Now that is exciting.
Ok, so you are saying to yourself; "I already know this, but why is he claiming that DB should be manager of the year?"
The answer is very simple—for all of his frustratingly annoying decisions (particularly with his batting orders) he has also been pushing some of the right buttons as well.
Baker has managed the Reds' pitching staff remarkably well. When it comes to the starting rotation, he has stepped in and gone to the bullpen at the right times while also staying out of the way at the right times. Of course, it helps that he has a lights-out bullpen, but he has been on top of things and isn't afraid to use it.
He has managed to keep his pen fresh and to rotate which pitchers he uses in what situations. Many times, managers rely on particular arms in certain situations and that can eventually burn out many of those arms. Baker has avoided this and relied on all of his guys in all situations—not locking any one person into a certain role other than Aroldis Chapman.
How has Dusty managed that lineup?
Despite the fact that he has continued to stick with below average options at the top of the lineup, he has done remarkably well the rest of the way. Just take a look for a minute at this—he had the best hitter in baseball removed from his lineup and yet managed to rally and piece together a lineup that has produced the fourth-most runs in the National League since losing said star.
You have to give Baker credit for recognizing that Ryan Ludwick was becoming his everyday cleanup hitter. You have to give him credit for realizing that Todd Frazier has to play nearly everyday. You also have to give him credit for recognizing that it is time to play Drew Stubbs just a bit less.
Maybe he didn't realize these things as early as we wanted him too or maybe he actually did but, decided it wasn't time to make changes. Regardless of the answer his team was still winning—he was doing something right.
Then there are his players and their praise for him. Baker's players love him. They love playing for him, they love talking to him, and they love learning from him.
Maybe Dusty Baker didn't make all the changes that fans (me included) and the media wanted early in the season. But maybe all of us didn't recognize all the things he was actually doing right. Maybe we are pre-programmed to only look for things to criticize in him.
Maybe, just maybe, it's time that those same fans and the media re-program the way they think of and look at Baker—recognizing the things that he is doing right. His team is battling it out for best record in the National League. Bad managing doesn't get you to that point.
Is Dusty Baker the N.L. Manager of the year? Should he be garnering more consideration for the award? Chime in with your thoughts.
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