With September winding down, and an apparent division crown on the way, I have to be honest…Tigers topics are hard to come by.
So when in doubt, it’s time for me to pull the Jim Leyland card.
Sep 3, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland (10) prior to a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Despite all of Jim Leyland’s success with the Tigers, he still remains one of the most divisive figures in Detroit sports right now. Now, his detractors have their reasons, some of them good, some of them not so good. Some believe Leyland rests his players too much. Some believe his lineups are questionable. And some just don’t like his handling of the press.
But there are things to like as well. Leyland has led the Tigers to the playoffs three times since 2006, twice to the World Series. He is by all accounts considered one of the better managers in the game by his peers. He is well respected by his players, and by all accounts runs a good clubhouse.
The Tigers have won a lot of games under Jim Leyland. They’ve won way more than they lost, which belies Jim Leyland’s overall career record which is only 39 games above .500. The Tigers though have been 101 games over the .500 mark since Leyland has been here.
The question then becomes, how much of that record is the roster that has been assembled, and how much of that is Leyland’s managing talent? I think most will agree that the players are what win and lose most games. In my opinion, managers typically make the most difference in close games. If you believe that, then 2013 hasn’t been a good year for Leyland. The Tigers are just 16-21 in one run games, and have six less wins than their Pythagorean (predictive) record says they should have. Last year, the Tigers weren’t very good in one run games either, but in 2011 they were outstanding.
Supporters of Leyland would say, why bitch about a manager of a first place club? I would agree with that as well, we are a bit spoiled if we are criticizing a manager that is about to take us to the playoffs three years in a row, but there is a but…
And this BUT is about expectations.
The Tigers were expected to cruise, but haven’t really. The Tigers are expected to go the World Series, but their 4-6 record in September isn’t expiring confidence right now. Then there is the fact that Jim Leyland is on a year to year contract basis. All of these are factors when talking about the manager and his future with the Tigers.
I am going to lay my cards on the table here. If the Tigers want to bring Jim Leyland back in 2014 no matter what, I am okay with that. If they don’t want to bring him back in 2014, I am okay with that as well.
At some point, it is all about the ultimate prize, and if the Tigers and Leyland fall short this season, I am just wondering if an expiration date is going to set in on his tenure.
I want to ask you the reader a question. Here is the scenario. The Tigers of course make the playoffs this season, but lose a first round series in three or four games.
Do you bring Jim Leyland back in 2014 or not?