Inflexible. Intractable. Wears out his welcome—quick. Those were the criticisms lobbed at Buck Showalter, who did not manage from 2007-09 after he was fired by the Rangers following the 2006 season.
But after a turn on television and a stint with the Indians as a senior advisor, he was hired on July 29, 2010, to turn around the listing Orioles and after a 93-loss 2011 season, got them pointed in the right direction, culminating in a 96-win season and their first AL East title since 1997. That helped Showalter garner the vote for Baseball America’s Major League Manager of the Year.
Like general manager Dan Duquette—Baseball America’s Major League Executive of the Year, Showalter’s strength is in utilizing his roster depth to great results, getting useful at-bats from marginal players such as Steve Pearce, Jimmy Paredes and Caleb Joseph and allowing rookies such as Jonathan Schoop to play through struggles.
“It’s such a great reflection on our organization, our ownership that has been so rock solid,” Showalter said on MLB Network after he was awarded the BBWAA version of the award.
Showalter is the third two-time winner of the major league manager of the year award. Former Braves manager Bobby Cox (2004 and 2010) and the Angels’ Mike Scioscia (2002 and 2009) are also two-time winners.
In his fourth managerial role and at 58, Showalter, like Duquette, appears to have mellowed and taken lessons from previous stops.
“Buck deserves it,” shortstop J.J. Hardy told BA correspondent Roch Kubatko for masnsports.com after the BBWAA award was handed out. “From a player’s perspective, he’s respected by everyone in the clubhouse. Everybody can trust every move he makes and not second-guess it. He has a way of getting the best out of each and every one of us.”
Showalter won Baseball America’s first minor league manager of the year award in 1989 with the Yankees’ Double-A team in Albany, N.Y.
“Congratulations to him,” closer Zach Britton told Kubatko. “It’s not surprising to me. Buck is a great manager to play for. He trusts and believes in his players. He’s able to get the most out of all his players. Not only the players at the big league level, but also guys that come up to fill a need throughout the season, which was a big reason why we accomplished so much this year.