Monday, September 30, 2013
An unbiased look at Dusty Baker's postseason managerial record
For 20 of the past 21 seasons, Dusty Baker has been the manager of a Major League Baseball team.
His managerial career began with a bang when he led the San Francisco Giants to a whopping 103 wins in 1993. He was named National League Manager of the Year for his efforts, but the Giants ultimately missed out on the playoffs, finishing just one game behind the Atlanta Braves for the National League West crown.
It wasn't until the 1997 season when Baker finally guided his first team to the playoffs as manager. Unfortunately, Baker's Giants were quickly eliminated by the Florida Marlins, who swept San Francisco in the NLDS (3-0) en route to winning the World Series.
After finishing second in the division in 1998 and 1999, Baker got the Giants back to the promised land in 2000, but like '97, SF was sent packing in the NLDS, succumbing to the New York Mets in four games.
The 2002 campaign marked a break through in Baker's stint with the Giants. After sneaking into the postseason via Wild Card, Baker's bunch proceeded to upset top-seeded Atlanta in the NLDS (3-2), mow down the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, and come within one win of claiming the World Series, falling to the Anaheim Angels in an epic seven game series.
Despite San Francisco's near miss, the franchise decided to part ways with Baker, leading to him taking over the same position with the Chicago Cubs.
Baker didn't skip a beat in leading yet another team to the playoffs. He led the Cubs to a division title and NLDS victory over the Atlanta Braves to set up a memorable NLCS clash with the Florida Marlins. Up 3-2 in the series at home, the Cubs fumbled away the chance to punch their ticket to the World Series, due in small part to the infamous Steve Bartman play. The wheels fell off at that point and the Marlins went on to win both the series and the World Series.
It was all downhill from there in Chicago as Baker failed to get the Cubs back to the postseason. In fact, the Cubs finished third, fourth, and sixth, respectively, in the three seasons following '03. After posting a 66-96 mark in '06, Baker was fired.
Baker watched the 2007 season in the stands before being hired by the Reds in October. After finishing with a losing record in each of his first two seasons as manager, Baker orchestrated a much-needed turnaround in 2010, leading the Reds back to the postseason for the first time since 1995 by unexpectedly winning the division.
The clock quickly struck midnight on Cincinnati's Cinderella story, though, as they were bounced from the postseason by the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS. The expectations were much higher for the Reds heading into the 2011 campaign, but things never went right for them, and they wound up sputtering to a disappointing 79-83 mark.
Baker's crew rebounded nicely in 2012 as they posted the second-best record in baseball (97-65) en route to capturing another division title. Optimism reached an all-time high when Cincinnati jumped out to a 2-0 series lead in the NLDS against the Giants. But things quickly turned south when the Reds inexplicably dropped three games at home to squander the chance to advance to the NLDS.
Now, Baker finds himself in a similar position, managing a team with a talented roster in the postseason. Will he be able to buck the trend of losing in the first round? Or will he be able to repeat the magic he conjured up in 2002 and get back to the World Series?
Here is his year-by-year record in the postseason:
1997: 0-3 (NLDS)
2000: 1-3 (NLDS)
2002: 10-7 (World Series)
2003: 6-6 (NLCS)
2010: 0-3 (NLDS)
2012: 2-3 (NLDS)
+ This year will mark the 7th time in Baker's 20-year managerial career that he has led a team to the promised land.
+ So, that makes him 7 for 20 in getting teams into the playoffs as skipper.
+ In his previous six trips to the postseason, only twice as he advanced beyond the first round.
+ Outside of 2002, Baker is 1-5 in postseason series.