BALTIMORE — Less than 72 hours after the Orioles shut out the Houston Astros 4-0, capping off their worst season in franchise history, the club has parted ways with manager Buck Showalter after a tenure of just over eight years.
According to Kubatko, Showalter initially met with Orioles ownership over the weekend and had another conversation today, where he was told he would not return as the team’s manager. The Orioles expressed interest in moving Showalter to a new role within the team, but no agreement was reached and the skipper is leaving Baltimore.
Rumors of Showalter’s departure started on Sept. 22 when USA Today baseball columnist Bob Nightengale revealed on Twitter that the Orioles planned on dismissing Showalter and retaining general manager Dan Duquette. A week later, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN said via Twitter that the Orioles had not spoken to either Duquette or Showalter in regards to their futures with the team. Five days after Crasnick’s report, Showalter is gone and Duquette’s status has yet to be made public.
Showalter’s managerial stint with Baltimore began on July 29, 2010 with the Orioles holding an MLB-worst record of 32-73. The Orioles won 34 of 57 games under Showalter to finish out the 2010 season. After going 69-93 in 2011, Showalter and the Orioles finished with a winning record in 2012 for the first time in 14 seasons at 93-69. The O’s finished second in the American League East, earning a trip to Texas for the American League one-game Wild Card Playoff.
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2012 marked the first year that a second Wild Card team made the playoffs. The Orioles made the most of their opportunity, beating the Rangers 5-1 before falling in a five-game divisional series to the Yankees.
In 2014, the Showalter-led Orioles won their first AL East division championship in 17 seasons when the Birds went 96-66, good for the #2 seed in the playoffs. After the Orioles convincingly swept the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS 3-0, the Kansas City Royals got the better of the O’s, sweeping them 4-0 in the ALCS. In the 2014 World Series, the San Francisco Giants topped the Royals after seven games, winning their third championship in six seasons.
The final time the Orioles reached the postseason under Showalter came in 2016 when the Blue Jays edged Baltimore 5-2 in the 2016 AL Wild Card game. The 11-inning affair saw the most controversial decision of Showalter’s time with the O’s, as the skipper elected to not use closer Zach Britton at all in the game. Britton made the 2016 All-Star team and ended the season with an ERA of 0.54. He did not blow a save all season.
After the 2016 Wild Card game, things started to go downhill for the Orioles. Baltimore held a 22-10 record on May 9, 2017, but since then the Orioles have played to a combined record of 100-192, finishing in last place in the AL East two consecutive times. The roster underwent a complete overhaul this past summer, and franchise cornerstone Adam Jones likely played his last game in Baltimore this past weekend to cap off the departures.
Even though Showalter led the Orioles to more wins than anyone in the American League from 2012-2016, his managerial career with Baltimore ends with a winning percentage of .494 (669-684). Don’t let that statistic tell the full story. Showalter’s presence changed the culture in the Orioles’ locker room and established a winning precedent. He held players accountable, always making them available to talk to the media even after their worst performances. He commanded respect, but never lashed out at a reporter or a fan wanting an autograph. He cared for and respected his players, both on the baseball diamond and in their personal lives.
At 62-years-old, Showalter’s career as a manager is closer to the end than the start. Teams seeking an established manager with a winning attitude could express interest in him, but it’s also possible that Showalter returns to his TV gig as a baseball analyst. It’s worth noting that Showalter has grandchildren, so perhaps some time off at his home in Texas could prove beneficial in the long run, especially after two very challenging seasons in Baltimore.
As for the Orioles, the club has made it known that they want to make their roster younger. Whether the youth movement includes the manager too remains to be seen. Over the summer, Duquette said that the Orioles want to include analytics and technology in their rebuild, so it’s likely that ownership is seeking a younger manager to grow with the team and implement the analytics that Duquette talked about. This opinion can be tossed out the window if the Orioles dismiss Duquette too, but an announcement pertaining to the status of the general manager should be coming soon.
Image Credit: New York Post