Everyone already knows about the man-crush* I have on Twins manager
I base my feelings about Gardenhire entirely on what I call the Gardy Axiom.
The Twins, based on my outsiders view of the relative talents of their players and perennially low payroll, should stink. The Twins do not stink. Gardy is a freaking genius.
Obviously this is a simplistic view, and people who follow the Twins in a much more involved and analytical way than I do can (and have) put together a long list of Gardy's flaws as a manager. They have collected his bizarre philosophies in book and blog form. They have presented an airtight case that Gardenhire, in fact, does many inexplicable things like only use
Maybe Gardy is best appreciated from a distance too. Brilliant reader Justyo asks how many more games the Kansas City Royals would win with Gardy as the skipper all year instead of
Then, let me put it another way. You ask, "How many more games would the Royals win with Gardy as manager?" I feel very confident in saying: More.
I do believe, though, that there are certain hard-to-pinpoint and difficult-to-calculate things a good manager can do to help a team win. One of the best managers I ever wrote about on a regular basis was
The Reds struggled the year Davey took the job, and they were lousy the years after he left, but those two full years (even with the astonishing management team of
How much credit do you give Davey Johnson for all that? Well, I can't give you a win total. I can only tell you that I saw how it was the next year with the very nice but very baffled
So, I think, it goes with Gardy. Just to make the point: Look at the Minnesota Twins lineup against the New York Yankees. You can start with this (all this through Sunday's games):
-- The Yankees have a higher on-base percentage.
OK, going into Sunday, the Minnesota Twins had scored 39 more runs than the New York Yankees.
Now, you tell me: How is that possible? The Twins' outfield this year is mostly
So how can the Twins possibly be outscoring the Yankees? Well, I can give you an answer in two words:
No, it's not all Cabrera either. It seems to me, looking over the numbers, it comes down to these:
-- The Yankees have hit into 12 more double plays than Minnesota.
-- BIG REASON: Twins hitting a ridiculous .313 with runners in scoring position. Yankees hitting a more human .260.
Inevitably, I suspect, it is this last one that really makes the difference ? the Twins have maintained that absurd average with runners in scoring position all year long. Now, I'm not going to tell you that I'm crediting Gardy for the Twins having such a great average with runners in scoring position -- even I'm not willing to go that far. That sort of average with RISP is a bit flukish and lucky and bordering on bizarre.
But I'm telling you, the guy has something to do with the mindset over there in Minnesota. As a friend of mine here in town says, all a baseball manager can really do is make sure that everyone is rowing in the same direction. That's one of the all-time "sounds simple, is hard" tasks in the world. I always thought
And in Minnesota, from the lowest minors all the way up they play one way: The pitchers throw strikes, the outfielders are athletes, everyone plays defense and the rest figures to work itself out. That's an organizational philosophy, and it works. I would never say the Twins are winning BECAUSE of Gardy ? they are winning because Joe Mauer is a catcher with a .415 on-base percentage (with the MVP race in the AL being wide open -- shouldn't he be in the mix?), because Justin Morneau is having a better year than his MVP season (even if the core numbers done show it), because Joe Nathan is the best closer in baseball*, because the rotation does throw strikes, because
So, let me just get this out on the table right now ? and I say this with all due respect to the year K-Rod is having, hey 53 saves already, good on ya, mate. But ...
Um, picking K-Rod over JOE NATHAN just to close out the ninth would be a horrendous choice. Picking him as league MVP would be one of the all-timers. Don't do it. PLEASE ... just don't do it.
So, of course it's not Gardy. And let's be clear: I'm not saying that Gardy could take the South Euclid Softball team and win the American League Central with it (Now, the National League West is another story). And I'm not saying that's he's the most brilliant baseball mind or the greatest motivator or the soundest game manager. I don't know these things. All I am saying that Gardy is just a bang-beat, bell-ringing, big-hole, great-go, neck-or-nothing, rip-roarin', every-time-a-bullseye manager. That's Professor Gardenhire.