Ron Gardenhire, Runner-Up for AL Manager of the Year Again

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Ron Gardenhire, Runner-Up for AL Manager of the Year Again
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

At first glance, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hasn't accomplished anything too extraordinary over his eight-year career.

 

Sure, he has led the Twins to five American League Central championships and has a career record well above .500 (709-588), but the Twins have won just a single playoff series under Gardenhire and have a dismal 6-18 postseason record.

 

From the outside looking in, it may appear as though it's time for the organization to move on from a coach who can't seem to take his team over the hump. When you look deeper into what Gardenhire has accomplished in his tenure with Minnesota, however, it becomes clear that he has been a magic worker, taking teams that have no business competing and pushing them to the next level.

 

It was announced today that Mike Scioscia of the Angels won the 2009 AL Manager of the Year, with Gardenhire taking second for the fifth time. Scioscia had a tough job ahead of him from Day One, with ace John Lackey, as well as other key contributors, opening the season on the disabled list.

 

Just three days into the season, the Angels lost Nick Adenhart to a fatal car accident, adding adversity that no coach is trained to handle. The Angels rallied, finishing the season with 97 wins, 10 games up on second place Texas in the AL West.

 

That's tough to beat.

 

In 2008, Gardenhire was runner-up to Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon, who led the Rays to one of the most unpredictable seasons in baseball history.

 

That's tough to beat.

 

In 2006, Gardenhire finished second to Detroit's Jim Leyland, who took a Tigers team that lost at least 90 games the past five seasons to a 95-win season in his first campaign with the club.

 

That's tough to beat.

 

In 2004, Gardenhire finished second to Buck Showalter, who performed a similar, yet less impressive, turnaround with the Texas Rangers and in 2003 he finished second to Tony Pena who took Kansas City from 100 losses to a winning record.

 

That's tough to beat.

 

Gardenhire and the Twins have been the quietly consistent team in the American League since he took over for Tom Kelly in 2002. They've had just one losing season under Gardenhire, posting a 79-83 record in 2007.

 

They've been in the hunt year in and year out, despite losing the likes of Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Brad Radke, David Ortiz, and Matt Garza while getting little or nothing in return. They stay in contention with the big boys of baseball despite never being a factor in free agency.

 

While Gardenhire's resume doesn't feature anything extraordinary like a World Series ring (or even an American League championship), he has certainly been amongst the best managers in baseball for a while now.

 

He helped lead a franchise from the brink of contraction to being serious competitors year after year. Now, a club that wasn't even sure if it would be in existence much longer around the time Gardenhire was hired is opening a brand new stadium in 2010.

 

That's tough to beat.

 

While there is an argument for Ron Gardenhire as the 2009 AL Manager of the Year, I do believe Mike Scioscia is a deserving recipient. Just like Maddon was. And just like Leyland, Showalter and Pena were.

 

Sooner or later, it'll be Ron Gardenhire's turn. He's not going anywhere anytime soon.

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