Ron Gardenhire Is the Most Underrated Manager in MLB

Collin Kottke@CollinKottkeCorrespondent IIIMarch 1, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 26: Ron Gardenhire #35 of the Minnesota Twins speaks with first base umpire Kerwin Danley #44 after Ben Revere #11 of the Twins was called out at first base during the first inning of the game against the New York Yankees on September 26, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Ron Gardenhire is a sitting duck; he’s managing without a contract for next season. If Ron Gardenhire was a U.S. President, he’d be handing out presidential pardons left and right, so 2013 might be the year Anthony Slama is freed.

It is all fun and games, but Gardenhire is definitely managing for his job here in Minnesota in 2013. He should be after his teams finished with 99 and 96 losses the past two seasons.

You can make all the excuses you want in favor of Ron Gardenhire on why his teams have struggled over the past two seasons, but you don’t have to because Gardenhire is one of the best and most underrated managers in the MLB.

Gardenhire was hired by the Twins on January 4, 2002 after the resignation of two time World Series winner Tom Kelly. Since Gardenhire has been hired, he has led the Twins to six division titles; no other manager has led their current team to that many division titles.

Yes, only one time has Gardenhire led the team past the American League Division Series, which isn’t a great stat to have on your managerial baseball card. It’s the main point that should be used if Gardenhire is fired, but no one can deny that six division championships isn’t impressive.

Another reason Gardenhire is underrated as a manager is that he is the second-longest tenured manager in the MLB behind the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Scioscia. That may not seem to fall under the umbrella of underrated until you realize how much manager turnover there is in the MLB.

Twenty current managers have been hired in their current job during 2010 or after. Only 10 managers managed in their current job in the last century.

The stability that the Twins franchise has is something that makes their organization great. The Twins have had only two managers since 1986, which is remarkable compared to the rest of the teams in this market:

  • Minnesota Vikings – six coaches since 1986
  • Minnesota Timberwolves – 10 coaches since 1989
  • Minnesota Wild – three coaches since 2000
  • Minnesota Golden Gopher Football – six coaches since 1986
  • Minnesota Golden Gopher Basketball – six coaches since 1986
  • (Note: Gopher Football includes one interim coach and Gopher basketball includes two interim coaches)

If that’s not impressive enough to illustrate the Twins and Gardenhire’s stability; Gardenhire was on Tom Kelly’s staff starting back in 1991, so he’s been at the Twins major league level for 22 years. That’s outstanding.

Here’re two more quick facts on why Ron Gardenhire is underrated:

  • Ron Gardenhire has a higher winning percentage than Tom Kelly had.
  • Gardenhire has five second place finishes in Manager of the Year with one win and one third place finish.
  • Gardenhire has more playoff appearances than all other Twins manager combined.

Frankly, you could go round and round on both sides of the Gardenhire argument. There are reasons to fire him, and there are reasons to keep him, but I’ll leave you with a question to really ponder:

Who would do a better job than Ron Gardenhire at being the manager of the Minnesota Twins?


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