Buck Showalter's Hiring Makes American League East Division Of Managers
When Buck Showalter was named the Orioles' 17th full time skipper on July 29th, it signaled the completion of the American League East's stranglehold on the title of Division with the Best Managers.
With Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay, Cito Gaston in Toronto, Joe Girardi in New York, Terry Francona in Boston and Showalter now in Baltimore, the AL East boasts a talented lineup of managers. Between them, they hold five World Series rings as skippers and four Manager of the Year Awards.
Let's take a look at all their achievements.
Joe Maddon, Rays
Within two years of taking over as Rays manager, Joe Maddon transformed the franchise from a 101-loss team to an American League champion.
Proving that was no fluke, he has Tampa Bay back in the AL East race just two seasons after guiding the club to the World Series and winning the Manager of the Year Award in 2008.
The fact that Maddon has done this with a club that has the 10th lowest payroll and the eighth lowest attendance in baseball proves that he is the best skipper in the game.
The 56-year-old's ingenuity when it comes to strategy such as small ball has helped a team with the 24th best batting average and 15th most home runs in baseball climb to third in runs scored this year.
Joe Girardi, Yankees
As a Yankees fan, I know all too well how Joe Girardi can make a questionable decision from time to time like pinch-running for Alex Rodriguez, bringing Chad Gaudin into a game or losing his designated hitter.
But Girardi's resume speaks for itself. In his first season as a skipper, the former catcher won the 2006 National League Manager of the Year Award with the Florida Marlins. He missed the playoffs in his first campaign with New York, but then led the Bombers to the '09 World Series title (their first in nine years), and he has them right back in the hunt this season.
Terry Francona, Red Sox
In his first season with the Red Sox in 2004, Terry Francona instantly became a New England legend by handing Red Sox fans their first World Series title in 86 years. He led Boston to four more playoff appearances over the next five years, including another championship in '07, and has them in the race for the wild card this season, despite dealing with a number of injuries.
Francona's 565 wins are second most in franchise history and his .581 winning percentage is the highest among Boston skippers that have served for more than four years.
Cito Gaston, Blue Jays
In Cito Gaston's first season with the Blue Jays, he led Toronto to the 1989 American League East title. He followed that up with three more playoff appearances over the next four years, including back-to-back World Series championships in '92 and '93.
Gaston's first stint with the club ended in '97 and the Jays went on to play just .500 baseball over the next decade.
In the middle of 2008, Gaston returned to Toronto to take over a team that was 35-39. He led the Blue Jays to a 51-37 mark over their final 88 games and, after a down year in '09, has them above .500 despite playing in the toughest division in baseball.
Buck Showalter, Orioles
Buck Showalter has never won a playoff series, but he's a two-time Manager of the Year and is a hard-nosed leader that puts teams in a position to win.
A year after Showalter left the Yankees in 1995, Joe Torre used his guys to lead New York to its first World Series title in 18 years.
A year after Showalter left the D-backs in 2000, Bob Brenly used his guys to lead Arizona to its first ever World Series title.
Showalter also left the Rangers in better shape than he found them and four years later, they're on the verge of reaching the playoffs for the first time since '99.
Now Showalter takes over an Orioles team that had the worst record in baseball (32-73) when he managed his first game on Aug. 3rd. They're 12-8 since.