Jul 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) in the dugout prior to a game against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles - Not Buck Showalter's First Rodeo

From 1998 to 2012, the Baltimore Orioles were one of the most disastrous franchises in baseball. After making the playoffs in 2012 and winning 85 games in 2013, they have recently become one of baseball’s premier teams. A reason, perhaps the biggest reason – Buck Showalter.

They failed to end the season with a winning record in any year from 1998 through 2011 and only eclipsed the 70-win mark once. In 2012, they came out of nowhere and made a magical playoff run. The team won 16 extra-inning games in a row, the closer Jim Johnson saved 51 ball games in 54 attempts; they went 29-9 in one-run games and got career-years from multiple players.

In 2012, they ended the year 93-69 and made the playoffs as a wild card team. They upset the favored Texas Rangers in the first-ever American League Wild Card game before extending the New York Yankees to five games in the American League Divisional Series. The O’s won 85 games the following year, proving to the baseball world that the Baltimore Orioles are back on the map.

The main reason for the sudden turn of events was the Manger of the bullpen by the name of Buck Showalter. He has a history of turning losing teams into winning ones in the blink of an eye.

Starting with Yankees: He took over as manager in 1992 when they finished the season with a 76-86 record. They won less than 75 games in each of the last three years as well. In 1993 – one year after Showalter took over the team – the Yankees won 88 games finishing second in the American League East division, which contained seven teams at the time.

The next year the Yankees won the division with a 70-43 record in a strike-shortened season. In Showalter’s final year with the Yankees (1995), they finished the year with a 79-65 record, which means  he lead a team that had losing records in four straight years to having winning records in three straight years.

After a a three-year absence from the managerial position, he made similar magic with the Arizona Diamondbacks. After winning 65 games in his first year there, the D-Backs all of a sudden won 100 games in 1992, earning the division crown. After another three year absence, he was signed by the Texas Rangers and did the same exact thing to them, except it wasn’t quite as impactful. After winning 71 games in his first season with the Rangers (2003), he lead them 89 wins in 2004.

After laving the Rangers in 2006, he served as a baseball analyst on ESPN for a few years, before being signed by the Orioles at the end of the 2010 season. After leading the worst team in baseball to a 34-23 record in the last 57 games of the season, the O’s won just 69 games in 2011. However, all it meant was that his magic would be delayed by just one year as the O’s won 93 games in 2012, 85 in 2013, and have gone 60-47 through the first 105 games in his fifth season with the Orioles.

Here are his career managerial stats:

Rk Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% G Finish Wpost Lpost W-L%post
1 1992 36 New York Yankees AL 76 86 .469 162 4
2 1993 37 New York Yankees AL 88 74 .543 162 2
3 1994 38 New York Yankees AL 70 43 .619 113 1
4 1995 39 New York Yankees AL 79 65 .549 145 2
5 1998 42 Arizona Diamondbacks NL 65 97 .401 162 5
6 1999 43 Arizona Diamondbacks NL 100 62 .617 162 1
7 2000 44 Arizona Diamondbacks NL 85 77 .525 162 3
8 2003 47 Texas Rangers AL 71 91 .438 162 4
9 2004 48 Texas Rangers AL 89 73 .549 162 3
10 2005 49 Texas Rangers AL 79 83 .488 162 3
11 2006 50 Texas Rangers AL 80 82 .494 162 3
12 2010 54 Baltimore Orioles AL 3rd of 3 34 23 .596 57 5
13 2011 55 Baltimore Orioles AL 69 93 .426 162 5
14 2012 56 Baltimore Orioles AL 93 69 .574 162 2
15 2013 57 Baltimore Orioles AL 85 77 .525 162 3
16 2014 58 Baltimore Orioles AL 60 47 .561 107 1

It makes you wonder why no teams gave him a chance in the 11 years he was free for.

The knock on him is that he wasn’t able to maintain any of those teams as he has never had longer then a four-year stint with any specific club. However, that hasn’t been the case with the Orioles. He has already been with the team for four and a half seasons and will be with the team at least through the 2017 season as they signed him to a three-year extension last year.

I’m a big fan of saying: coach’s don’t win games, players do; but there are few exceptions and Showalter is one of them. In 2012, the Orioles did nothing to upgrade on roster from the 69 wins in 2011, yet they still won 34 more games. How do you explain that?

 

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Buck Showalter

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