Buck Showalter, 59, the man accountable for reinvigorating the ’92 Yankees, ’98 expansion D’Backs, 2003 Rangers, and 2010 Orioles. The 2014 American League Manager of the Year will be entering his sixth season with the Orioles in 2016. Showalter’s turnaround prophecy has put him with Tony La Russa as being the only managers to win the Manager of the Year award with three separate teams. The Orioles manager is also a member of another elite club, as being only the sixth manager to win the award at least three times.
The former ESPN analyst took charge as manager for the Orioles in the midst of the 2010 season on August 3rd. Before Showalter took over the commands, the O’s fired Dave Trembley making Juan Samuel the interim manager. Showalter delivered an instant impression on the Orioles as the team went 34-23 to finish out the 2010 season.
With the offseason underway, many teams will be looking for new managers to guide their team in 2016. For the Orioles, that’s the least of their worries. Even though the O’s had a disappointing 2015 season, there is no possibility on this earth that Showalter is on the hot seat. In fact, his seat is comfortable as he’s the man that rescued the Orioles from a 15-year playoff drought and induced life back into Camden Yards.
Showalter’s success in turning around losing franchises comes from various key leadership skills. First, is his keen ability to make an immediate impact on his players and change the culture of the team. Before Showalter, the Orioles sustained 14 consecutive losing seasons and 4 straight years finishing in the cellar of the American League East from 2008-2011. That didn’t phase him as he was quick to raise expectations for the franchise, something past Oriole managers failed to do.
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Besides changing the culture, Showalter shows great attention to every detail of the game. This allows him to make critical adjustments to teams that other strong minded baseball people would often miss. As the long-time leadoff hitter, Brian Roberts struggled to return to baseball action with ongoing concussion issues. Buck decided to plant Nick Markakis at the top of the lineup. The decision by Buck was one that didn’t pass the minds of anybody in the league. Buck observed Markakis’ skill set and recognized that he could flourish batting leadoff. Markakis did just that and experienced excellent success batting leadoff for the Orioles until 2014. Showalter faced a similar situation in 2015 after Markakis left the team to sign with the Atlanta Braves. This time, Showalter placed Machado at the leadoff position. Once again, Showalter found something in Machado that would convert to success batting leadoff.
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During the Orioles 15 year playoff drought, managers such as Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli, Sam Perlozzo, Dave Trembley, and Juan Samuel went for a combined 887-1160, a .440 winning percentage. Along with the current losing state of the franchise, Oriole managers have to take on the task of dealing with the impulsive Orioles owner, Peter Angelos. The managerial position for the Orioles at the time didn’t look very intriguing. But for one, Buck Showalter, the man showed no fear to the unfavorable features that the Orioles franchise presented at the time.
Showalter embraced the opportunity to turn around the Orioles franchise and bring the glory days back to the city of Baltimore. Showalter refused to let his team back down and shy away from the league’s powerhouse teams. Players gave into Showalter’s bold stance and believed they could win against any team on any given day. As players revealed a winning mindset, Showalter addressed his players about the importance of being accountable for your teammates. Showalter demands his players to expect the best from themselves and their teammates. If any wrongdoing is taking place, Showalter doesn’t anticipate to always be the person to say something.
Buck Showalter demands the best out of his players in each game and he gets just that. As he’s picked up the O’s from the bottom pit of baseball, Baltimore fans admire his presence with the team. Showalter has shifted the culture in Baltimore. Since joining the Orioles in 2010, Showalter has led the Orioles to a record of 458-409, a .528 winning percentage. Buck guided the Orioles back into the playoffs in 2012 and brought a division title to Baltimore in 2014, something that hadn’t accomplished since 1997. With his exceptional success as an MLB manager, Showalter is still in search for his first championship. That journey will proceed in 2016 as he enters his sixth full season with the birds.