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Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.
There is no doubt that one of the major reasons why the Birds are where they are is because of the man at the helm, Buck Showalter.
After he led the 2010 misfits to a 34-23 record over his final two months of the season, fans knew Showalter was here to make a difference. Before he arrived in Baltimore on August 2 a little over two years ago, the then-last-place Orioles had won just 32 games all year.
Showalter is the type of manager who understands how to build a team from the bottom up. He doesn’t worry about one particular season and how they fare that year. His goal is to build a strong, lasting squad.
Last year, in his first full season as the manager, the Birds finished with a 69-93 record. This season, they finished with the exact opposite record, which is a 24-game win differential as he led them to the first winning season since ’97, when they notched 98 victories.
Every team he has managed, he’s been able to turn around that team within two full seasons. In his first year as a manager with the Yankees in 1992, they went just 76-86. However, the following season, they improved by 12 games and went from fourth place to second place.
In the next two seasons, they finished in first and second place, respectively. And as we all know, the Bombers won four of the next five World Series.
In his second go-round as a manager, he really did himself in as he undertook the struggling expansion Diamondbacks in 1998. That season, they dropped almost 100 games as they finished with a dismal 65-97 record and last in the NL West.
The following year, they improved by 35 games as they notched 100 wins in just their second season in existence. They won the West and quickly made a name for themselves. In his last year with the club in 2000, they finished 85-77, which was good for third place in the West.
As we all know, after he left, the Diamondbacks went on to win the 2001 World Series against the Yankees.
Finally, in his last tenure before arriving in Baltimore, he had the tough assignment of turning around the struggling Rangers. After Texas finished fourth in the AL West for three straight seasons from 2000 to 2002, he assumed the role of manager in 2003.
Although they struggled in his first year, he built them up for success and they have been one of the best teams in the majors over the last three years. In 2003, they finished with a 71-91 record.
However, in his second year, they improved by 18 games by winning 89 games and finishing third in a very tough division. Over the next couple of seasons, they finished with 79 and 80 victories, respectively.
He is definitely one of the major reasons why the Birds have had success this season, and he has built a strong foundation for the future in Baltimore.