The Phillies’ managerial search appears to be down to three candidates, who combine for 53 years of experience at running a Major League team. Gabe Kapler was a first-time manager who took an analytics-heavy approach to his role as the Phils’ skipper, though after two disappointing years, Kapler was fired to make way for a more seasoned hand in the dugout. This isn’t to say that Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, or Buck Showalter aren’t open to modern ideas, yet it’s clear that the Phillies are looking for, in the words of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Breen, a mix of “analytics and tradition.”
While it could be argued how “new school” or “old school” the three candidates are, one thing is for certain — Baker, Girardi, and Showalter all have outstanding track records.
Baker: 1863-1636 record over 22 seasons managing the Giants (1993-2002), Cubs (2003-06), Reds (2008-13), and Nationals (2016-17); 14 winning seasons; eight postseason appearances, seven division titles, one league pennant
Girardi: 988-794 record over 11 seasons managing the Marlins (2006) and Yankees (2008-17); 10 winning seasons; six postseason appearances, three division titles, one World Series championship
Showalter: 1551-1517 record over 20 seasons managing the Yankees (1992-95), Diamondbacks (1998-2000), Rangers (2003-06), Orioles (2010-18); 10 winning seasons; five postseason appearances, two division titles
Between managing contenders, also-rans, rebuilding teams, and (in Girardi’s case) World Series champions, the three skippers have basically seen it all in their careers, which should help in dealing with a Phillies team that has a lot of talent, but was also hamstrung by injuries and a lack of production in some key areas over the last two seasons.
As much as the Phillies were expected to contend this year, they haven’t yet gotten into that tier of the sport’s top teams — which is nothing unusual for Baker and Showalter, who have each molded losing teams into playoff contenders on multiple occasions. Girardi didn’t exactly have the same rebuilding experience when he took over the consistently-winning Yankees following Joe Torre’s departure, though he withstood a decade in the Bronx pressure cooker, and kept the Yankees above .500 from 2013-16 during what counts, by New York’s standards, as a rebuilding period (only one postseason appearance in those four years).
If you ran the Phillies, which of these three managers would you hire to get your team over the top? (Poll link for app users.)