Jim Leyland Signing by Detroit Tigers is the Right One

By Chris Katje

After discussing the possibility of Jim Leyland retiring, the longtime MLB manager has decided to return for at least one more season. Despite losing the World Series, the Detroit Tigers announced less than 48 hours later that they would be retaining their manager of the last seven seasons.

Leyland will return for his 22nd season as a MLB manager. With 1676 career wins, Leyland has the most of any active manager. Leyland’s win total is also good for 15th all time. The Tigers will need to win 159 games for Leyland to move up the career win list.

Despite heavy criticism by fans and analysts, the signing of Leyland is the right one. The Tigers manager has taken the team to the World Series twice in his seven years with Detroit. Leyland also won a Manager of the Year Award with the team in 2006. Leyland has only had one losing season while in Detroit, a feat not many managers can claim.

Signing a new manager could mess with team chemistry. Other teams have found out that bringing in a new coach doesn’t always do well with teams loaded with talent. Leyland has been criticized for his hands off approach. The manager doesn’t mess with pitching rotations, or batting order as much as other managers do in the major leagues. Leyland also took heat for leaving pitchers in games too long and allowing them to bail themselves out, a strategy that did not work too well in the Playoffs.

Bringing back Leyland shows the confidence the team and players have in returning to the World Series. The Tigers figure to be quiet on the free agent front, other than possible pitching depth. The team will look to keep its core roster in place, and win the AL Central for the third straight season.

Here is a look at how Leyland has done while in Detroit:

  • 2006: Won the AL Wild Card, lost in the ALCS by 1 game. Season featured three 90 win teams in the AL Central
  • 2007: Finished 2nd by 8.5 games to the Cleveland Indians, but were only six wins back for the AL Wild Card.
  • 2008: Finished in 5th place in the AL Central, and had the only losing season under Leyland.
  • 2009: Missed the Playoffs by 1 game to the Minnesota Twins, who won the AL Central.
  • 2010: Finished in 3rd place in the AL Central with an 81-81 record.
  • 2011: Went to the MLB Playoffs, after winning the AL Central.
  • 2012: Lost in the World Series, won the AL Central in back to back seasons.

Leyland’s one year contract has already led to questioning his future in Detroit. When asked about this matter, Leyland had this to say, “I’m going to be here in 2013, and we’ll take it from there.” The quick signing of Leyland allows the front office and manager to make some key roster decisions to shape the team going forward, as it attempts to make a return trip to the World Series.

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