May 5, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) walks back to the dugout after meeting with the umpires before taking on the Baltimore Orioles in their inter league baseball game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Baltimore Orioles fans have come to truly appreciate the managerial style of Buck Showalter. And even though not every move is fully applauded and appreciated, any discerning O’s fan knows that the Birds have one of the very best skippers in the business.
FOX Sports writer Ken Rosenthal has an interesting article on the hiring trends in Major League Baseball, noting that the pattern is one that is away from long-term baseball veterans who have been laboring and working their way through the system, but more now toward younger and analytics-minded individuals. There seems to be a trend toward those who have an eye on the numbers rather than those who have had their eyes on thousands of games over a long window of time.
"I’m sorry, but as much as I recognize the importance of analytics, it is disrespectful for teams to overlook the value of experience when considering prospective managers. … Analytics are changing the game. The manager’s role is changing along with it. Still, a manager’s No. 1 task is not to crunch numbers, but to connect with 25 premium athletes, ages 20 to 40, who are full of ego and bluster."
In Buck Showalter, the Orioles truly possess the best of both worlds. He is very, very tuned-in to the numbers. Often we see him making a move that is clearly understood when that player’s stats are especially good against the particular pitcher or hitter to be faced. This is evident as well in starting lineups and batting orders.
Yet at the same time, is there anyone better in terms of the personal relationship aspect of managing a team? Showalter has great respect for all of his players and is totally alert to personal life issues; and even when a player especially blows up in a game with a dreadful performance, he never throws them under the bus. There is a reason that the Orioles clubhouse is known now throughout the game as a particularly happy room and desirable place to play.
Torii Hunter Retirement Announced
In other news, long-time outfielder Torii Hunter has announced his retirement at age 40. He only hit for a .240 average this past season in his return to Minnesota, after his five seasons with the Angels and two with the Tigers.
Interestingly, Hunter made his MLB debut on August 22, 1997 for the Minnesota Twins in a game at Camden Yards. He was a pinch runner in a 3-1 Orioles victory. Hunter came in at first base as the potential tying run in the top of the ninth inning with one out, but Randy Myers relieved Scott Erickson and immediately induced a double play to finish the game. The Orioles were 81-44 after that win!
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Hunter finishes his career by playing 2,372 games over 19 years, hitting .277 with 353 home runs. His entire career was in the American League. His career OBP was .331.
Torii Hunter was hard on the Orioles, against whom he had great success in 122 games. Of the 12 teams against which he played over 100 games, the O’s were #2 in batting average against — hitting .295 with 25 home runs. He hit .322 against the Red Sox.