Former Washington Nationals third base coach Bo Porter has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse. After being on a team that won 98 games and a National League East pennant last season, Porter took a job as manager of the worst team in MLB, the Houston Astros. To understand where Porter was and where he is, you need only look at the 2012 performance of the Nationals and Astros.
While Washington was finishing an MLB-best 98-64, Houston limped to the finish line at 55-107. In their eight head to head meetings, the Nationals won seven. Washington definitely subscribed to the theory that in order to win a division title you must beat the bad teams soundly.
Porter came to Washington in 2010 and since then, the Nationals have gone from being a mediocre team to a very good one. Their win count increased over the past three years from 69, to 80, then to 98. During that same period, the Astros win total dropped from 76, to 56, to 55. Houston is coming off of the first two 100-loss seasons in franchise history under former manager Brad Mills and the man who replaced him at the end of 2012, Tony DeFrancesco. All of the losing may not have been Mills’ fault, but no manager can afford to lose 100 games two years in a row unless he is leading an expansion team.
In Houston, Porter will find that he has the equivalent of a new team. The Astros finished worse the past two seasons than they did in their first two years of existence a half century ago. It is rather ironic that this is the case as Houston has left the NL Central, and will be playing its first season in the American League West. This means Porter will not get a chance to face Washington on a yearly basis as he would have if the Astros had stayed put.
Maybe this is a good thing, as he may have had second thoughts every time the Nationals beat him.
MLB did not do Porter any favors by moving the Astros to the AL West. There, they will find two teams that won over 90 games last season in the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers. The Los Angeles Angels won 89. Even the Seattle Mariners won 20 more games than Houston.
There is no question that Porter has his work cut out for him, but he is an MLB manager, which is something that not too many African-American men can claim. The Astros are the first MLB team he has managed. Porter will have to grow and learn while Houston rebuilds.
His new situation is a far cry from the one Porter left in Washington.