Ever since he took over for Tom Kelly in 2002 as the manager of the Minnesota Twins, Ron Gardenhire has had only one losing season and has seen the postseason in five of those eight years.
His regular season record of 708-588 and four AL Central crowns make him the class of the Major Leagues at the manager position.
Sure Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa have racked up rings left and right, but those managers had some of the greatest teams talent-wise that our generation has ever seen.
The Yankees of the late ’90s were so dominant that it took two of the greatest pitchers, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, to throw some of the greatest pitching performances in recent playoff history to barely keep them from a four-peat as World Champs.
And LaRussa has spent the last eight seasons with the best player in baseball, Albert Pujols.
Meanwhile Gardenhire has had good players like Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, but the overall depth is nowhere near the same.
Over the last five seasons, Nick Punto has seen significant playing time. As a White Sox fan, many jokes have had Punto as the butt of them.
With only over 100 hits in one season and a career .248 batting average, Punto isn’t going to help a team much. But in spite of a low payroll and players like Punto, Gardenhire finds ways to win.
Ozzie Guillen hit the nail on the head when he called the Twins, “The Piranhas.”
Gardenhire-led teams generally win often and win ugly.
When thinking of who would be the best manager for your favorite team many names come to mind. Maybe Lou Piniella because of his on-field antics, or maybe even Joe Torre with all of his World Series rings.
The manager that sticks out to me is Tony LaRussa.
Now sure, he may not be the flashiest manager of all time, hardly cracking a smile, but you can’t argue with what the man has done in his career.
With 2,552 wins, he has the third most all-time behind managers Connie Mack (3,731 wins) and John McGraw (2,763 wins). If he continues his career for three or four more seasons, LaRussa will likely pass McGraw and move into second.
LaRussa has led the St. Louis Cardinals to the National League Central Pennant nine times (including the tie with the Astros in 2001), and has been named a Manager of the Year four times, a feat no other manager has been able to accomplish.
In two of the last five seasons, LaRussa has taken the Cardinals to the World Series, winning once in 2006.
And those are just some of the things he did with the Cardinals. He also took the Oakland A’s to three consecutive World Series, though he lost two of the three. He also won two more Manager of the Year awards in his early days with the A’s.
So if you are thinking about who you would want to manage your favorite team, take a gander at the Gateway City. They have arguably one of the best managers of all time at the helm and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down.