Mike Scioscia: The Best Manager in Baseball
Think to yourself: Who are the best general managers in baseball?
Households names such as Billy Beane and Theo Epstein always come to mind.
Think of a few more, if you will.
A name that's almost guaranteed never to come up is Tony Reagins. Go ahead and look up what team he's on. No one will blame you.
Reagins has been the Angels general manager since October of 2007. In his second offseason, he came under fire for not re-signing Mark Teixeira or adding any offense for that matter.
In fact, it didn't seem like the team made any upgrades.
In hindsight, the Angels didn't have such a terrible offseason. Bobby Abreu has a .858 OPS. Kendry Morales, taking over for Teixeira at first base, has 20 home runs in 92 games, saving the Angels $180 million.
The reason Reagins is never talked about is because he's not the Angels. The scouting, the talent, the strategy, and the chemistry all come from a single foundation.
That foundation is to listen to manager Mike Scioscia.
Scioscia is the longest-tenured manager in the American League. In his first nine years with the Angels, Scioscia has led the team to six straight winning seasons and a World Series Championship in 2002.
He's not slowing down, either—Scioscia is signed through 2018.
"Winning and losing are both habits, and winning is a habit here because of Mike," pitcher John Lackey said.
The system is so recognizable. Run, steal bases, sacrifice, hit for contact at all costs. It's a system that many teams are shying away from recently, but a system that works for the Angels.
Before drafting a team, the scouts and executives always have to pick the players who fit the system. Clearly, it's working, as the Angels have a better record than any American League team over the past five years.
But Sciosia isn't just the manager of the Angels. He's the manager, the bench coach, the general manager, the scout, and the MVP. He's involved in all of those roles, and he's doing them all very well.
This season has been the most difficult for Scioscia, but the Angels are 59-40 and leading the AL West.
After last year's 100-win season, the Angels lost Teixeira, Francisco Rodriguez, and Garret Anderson in the offseason.
Not only did free agency hurt the Angels, but injury did as well. Over the course of the year, Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Scot Shields and Kelvin Escobar among others have seen time on the Disabled List.
The greatest loss came from the passing of Nick Adenhart in April. Some teams have disputes just because of playing time, but a death can ruin a team.
Scioscia kept the team together and has done so the entire season, keeping the team motivated after losing Adenhart.
Hunter calls Scioscia "the leader of the clubhouse, and he tries to be upbeat and up-tempo. When I saw the way he handled what we went through in April, I really gained a lot of respect for him."
Perhaps inconsistency from certain players has been the Angels' biggest problem. Brian Fuentes, Joe Saunders, Jose Arredondo have regressed significantly since last year.
But though all the struggles, Scioscia is now managing better than ever. His system is now implemented more than ever. The players are responding to him now more than ever.
The Angels sit second in the majors in runs scored, despite placing only 15th in home runs. However, they're second in the majors in stolen bases and fifth in sacrifice flies, which Scioscia is all about.
The pitching is 27th in ERA. That's understandable, considering they've never had the Lackey, Shields, Saunders, Santana, Adenhart, Fuentes, or Arredondo they were expecting.
Nonetheless, it's a miracle that the Angels are in it right now. Not only are they in it, but they have the third best record in the majors while being led on the field by Hunter and Jered Weaver.
However, the Dodgers aren't great just because of Torre. They're great because of progression from younger players and depth.
Scioscia is the only manager in baseball who truly represents everything that's great about his team.
Free agency losses, injury, and regression of talent continue to plague the Angels, even as they start 12-3 after the All-Star break without Guerrero and Hunter.
Scioscia has fixed the Angels' problems with depth and talent along with preventing problems with chemistry.
The Angels came into this year with a completely different team than last year, but they are on pace for 97 wins, which is only three less than last year.
Scioscia is currently the best manager in baseball—if only for now.
Data and quotations in this article were used from the following websites: baseballreference.com, Wikipedia, Cott's Baseball Contracts, sportingnews.com, star-telegram.com, ESPN, and sportsnet.ca.
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