Is Joe Girardi Really the Second Best Manager in Baseball?

Yesterday, I saw a headline that Joe Girardi was to get a “very generous” contract offer from the New York Yankees. I thought to myself, that’s strange. I thought that the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs this year. That’s right, the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs this year. In fact, the Yankees had their fewest win total since 1992 and missed the playoffs for only the 2nd time in the last 19 season. Do you know who the manager was the last time the Yankees missed the playoffs? Joe Girardi.

Now, before I go on, I want to be clear that I have nothing against Joe Girardi. From everything I’ve read about the guy (and seen), he seems really great. While my favourite team is the Toronto Blue Jays, that doesn’t mean that I have to dislike the managers of opposing teams.

As I was saying, Girardi and the Yankees missed the playoffs this year. They also missed the playoffs in 2008 (Girardi’s first year as a manager of the Yankees). As an aside, I guess it goes to show you just how successful Joe Torre was as the manager of the Yankees. He was the manager from 1996 through 2007 and the Yankees went to the playoffs every year. In Joe Girardi’s tenure as the manager of the Yankees, they’ve gone to the playoffs 4 times (out of 6 seasons) and won the World Series once.

Of particular note, are the last three years for Girardi. Why? Because he signed a new 3-year contract after the 2010 season. So, how’s Girardi fared over the last 3 years? In 2011, the Yankees won their division and made the playoffs, but lost to the Detroit Tigers in the division series. In 2012, the Yankees won their division (again) and made the playoffs. This time, they won the division series against the Baltimore Orioles. However, in the league championship series against the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees lost. In 2013, the Yankees finished tied for third in the division and didn’t make the playoffs.

Just for comparison’s sake, let’s take another American League manager over the last three years. Since the Yankees have lost to the Tigers two years in a row, let’s look at how they’ve performed behind the leadership of Jim Leyland. In 2011, the Tigers finished first in their division and made the playoffs. As I mentioned, they beat the Yankees in the league division series. During the league championship series, the Tigers lost to the Texas Rangers. In 2012, the Tigers finished first in their division. They beat the Oakland Athletics in the league division series and then beat the Yankees in the league championship series. However, they couldn’t beat the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. In 2013, the Tigers finished first in their division and are currently playing in the league division series against the Oakland Athletics. In Game 1, they won 3-2. Game 2 of the series is tonight. While the Tigers still have a ways to go before they return to the World Series, they’re a lot closer than Joe Girardi’s Yankees.

Jim Leyland has been making $2 million a year since he signed with the Tigers and has agreed to maintain that salary moving forward. During Girardi’s last contract, he was making $3 million a year. This new offer is said to make him the second highest paid manager in baseball. The current highest paid manager makes $5 million a year.

I realize that some folks will want to take into account different things like playing in a high-profile market like New York, but others would simply say it’s all about winning the World Series. In looking at all of this, the question then becomes: is Girardi really the second best manager in baseball?

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