MLB’s First-Year Managers

After an offseason of heavy managerial turnover, the 2011 season featured 12 skippers in their first full seasons with their current clubs. We checked in on the managers midseason and, now that the regular season is over, it's time to take another look at how the leadership changes have gone.

Keep in mind that teams' won-loss records reflect their players, their health and their opponents, not just the managers' work.

American League
Buck Showalter’s Orioles finished 69-93 and there are rumblings that he could move upstairs to the front office. John Farrell’s Blue Jays finished with a .500 record – 81-81 – in his first season as a manager. 

Ned Yost led the Royals to a 71-91 record as Kansas City surpassed the 70-win plateau for just the second time in eight seasons. More importantly, Yost oversaw the big league debuts for top prospects like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Former Indians manager Eric Wedge had the punchless Mariners on the fringes of contention, until an extended slump dragged the team to the bottom of the AL West, where they finished with a 67-95 record.

Kirk Gibson

National League 
The Braves lost their grip on the NL Wild Card with a late-season slide and finished 89-73 under new manager Fredi Gonzalez. Terry Collins' Mets finished 77-85 and the club picked up Collins' 2013 option this week. Another NL East skipper, Edwin Rodriguez, resigned after the Marlins' record slipped to 32-39.

Ron Roenicke led the Brewers to a division title and a franchise record 96 wins. Mike Quade of the Cubs completed his first full season in Chicago with a 71-91 mark. Clint Hurdle's Pirates were in the playoff mix for four months and eventually finished under .500 again with a 72-90 record.

Kirk Gibson (pictured) is headed to the playoffs after leading the Diamondbacks to 94 wins and the NL West title. Another former big league star, Don Mattingly, led the Dodgers to an 82-79 mark after a slow start.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

Full Story | 23 Comments | Categories: Uncategorized

23 Responses to MLB’s First-Year Managers Leave a Reply

  1. inkstainedscribe 4 years ago

    If you believe that managers don’t really make much difference in the way teams perform, Fredi Gonzalez may be the exception who proves the rule. From hitting Heyward low in the order to benching him in favor of Constanza to overusing the back end of his bullpen, FG kept his streak of postseason appearances intact … at 0. If Larry Parrish and Martin Prado are both in Atlanta in 2012 and Heyward isn’t, Frank Wren should be fired.

    • Ian Smell 4 years ago

      Cool story bro.

    • Baseballfan83 4 years ago

      Why should he be playing an outfielder hitting .212 when Costanza was hot and playing well. Your acting like Heyward had some great year and Fredi missed it. He was horrible all year and deserved the benching and low spot in the order. And the only bullpen over use came after Jair and Hanson went down and the rookies where rushed in. The only move that should have happened and didn’t was to cut Lowe lose. 

      • LioneeR 4 years ago

        Heyward in his horrible year had a .708 OPS.  Constanza in the MINORS had a career .720 OPS.  Who do you think was going to play better going forward?

        I am fine with benching heyward for a week or so to give him some rest and let him try to figure things out with his swing, but not for as long as he did.

        Fredi also did things like putting Schafer hitting 1st and Alex Gonzales hitting 2nd.  Neither of these players should ever be hitting in the top half of the order for a contender.

        Unfortunately the braves are going to have to win despite Fredi for the forseeable future.  No way they get rid of him quickly.

      • inkstainedscribe 4 years ago

        Maybe Heyward is too stubborn to make the adjustments needed for him to handle inside pitches. But it’s pretty clear to me that Parrish had no clue of how to help him make those mechanical adjustments, and that’s what a hitting coach is supposed to do.

        I drank a little of the Constanza kool-aid for awhile and then realized there’s a reason he’s a career minor leaguer. Big league pitchers figured him out and he didn’t compensate. At best, he looks like a Gregor Blanco with speed.

    • bigpat 4 years ago

      Heyward’s regression was one of the biggest reasons, if not the #1 reason why the Braves weren’t good enough this year. Quit cutting him so much slack. I checked out his game logs and seen he did start to hit a little better near the end of the season and I guess Fredi should have stayed with him then, but fact is he was supposed to be their big bat and he failed miserably. 

      • I’d actually say their collapse had quite a bit to do with Hanson and Jurrjens going down as well.  They had VERY strong pitching with Hudson, Hanson and Jurrjens.

        • inkstainedscribe 4 years ago

          The pitching injuries sure didn’t help. But the kids the Braves called up did fine. It was the lack of offense that did them in.

    • Grab some pine, meat. 4 years ago

      Basically you’re telling us that because Hyped-Up Heyward didn’t hit 50 bombs and lead the team in OPS that FG is to blame because he sat him. You dumb. So he isn’t a miracle worker, but I don’t see any other new managers on that list that did as well as FG. (Edit: aside from Gibson) You should learn to count your blessings, sir.

      • bigpat 4 years ago

        I don’t think it was reasonable to expect him to hit 50 bombs, but it was fair to assume he’d do more than suck a bag of you-know-what, which he did this season. 

  2. Gumby65 4 years ago

    WASN’T a big fan of Mattingly being announced to replace Torre (instead of Wallach), but Donnie Baseball has actually been ++, he seems to have the team drinking his Koolaid, and 161 games later, no double-trips to the mound.  Might have a little too much love for the sac bunt (more than necessary), but not quite as hard on the MR’s as Torre.

    • BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

      Mattingley is never going to live down that so-called double tripper, is he? Agreed I wasn’t too thrilled with his appointment over Wallach. I was concerned that he’d show his inexperience, but he’s done fine, especially under the circumstances.

  3. BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

    Hard to judge any manager’s performance based on just one season, but a tip of the cap has to be given to Gibson for leading a very surprising Arizona club to a division title.

    • Grab some pine, meat. 4 years ago

       Yes, even as a Giants fan I have to agree. He turned the D-backs around like he did the dodgers in the late 80’s. He was a manager waiting to happen.

      • BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

        All baseball fans have to give him credit for what he did with this team. If he can advance them through the NLDS he’s going to be a strong Manger of the Year candidate. Still I have to wonder if his intense style would be as effective with another group of players. Hard to judge based on a single season… but credit where it’s due.

  4. BlueCatuli 4 years ago

    How many will be back?

  5. valkscool 4 years ago

    I think they forgot Manny Acta.

    • I think you’re forgetting that Manny Acta was in his 2nd season as the Indian’s manager, and this post focused on managers in their 1st season.

  6. Grab some pine, meat. 4 years ago

    “Edwin Rodriguez, resigned after the Marlins’ record slipped to 32-39.”

    How funny would that be if it said re-signed instead.

  7. Guest 4 years ago

    Hopefully next year we will be talking about Ryne Sandberg in Chicago and a Kirk Gibson type of situation going on with the Cubs.

  8. Grab some pine, meat. 4 years ago

    Passionless? Not all managers are aiming for the “most ballgames thrown out of” award, and on that note, braves fans shouldn’t expect another Cox out of Gonzalez or any manager they get in the future.

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