The debate among Detroit Tigers fans is what Jim Leyland has to do to keep his job as manager. Many are saying he needs to win the World Series. Others are saying getting to the World Series might prompt his bosses to give Leyland another year, regardless of how the Tigers fare in the Fall Classic.
Hardly anyone is saying getting the team to the MLB playoffs is enough.
But Leyland has already done enough to earn at least one more season with the team.
Winning three straight divisional titles shouldn’t result in the ouster of a manager, regardless of how he does in the postseason. Winning the World Series at one time was the mandatory rule for only the New York Yankees manager. In recent years, the Yankee brass has been less demanding.
But team presidents like the Tigers’ Dave Dombrowski realizes that the most he can expect from his manager is a solid 162-game performance and giving the team a chance to go after a World Series title. It’s rare, but it does occasionally happen in other sports where a coach who, despite having a great regular season, is ousted for not doing well on the playoffs.
Leyland and his coaches have done all the work from March through now. They’ve got their team in the position to do more. Now it’s up to the players. Teams with the best regular-season records are no longer a lock to win it all. It’s the team that’s playing well in late September and October that takes home the top prize. That’s something that’s tough to manage. It simply has to happen, courtesy of the players.
Tigers players generally like Leyland and would prefer that he returns as skipper. As long as he has his team playing in October, Leyland should stay on the job.