One of the downsides in being a fan of the Arizona Diamondbacks is the lack of history with the team. Sure, we have our own legends of the game, Randy Johnson, Luis Gonzalez, Curt Schilling, but there isn’t the decades long history to look back on and reminisce.
But that can also be a perk. If I was a fan of another team with a long history, there would be specific teams I wouldn’t remember, players I didn’t know and managers I was ambivalent about. With the Diamondbacks though, I can remember something about every year since their inception. I can remember the highest of highs, a cutter to the hands fought off and deposited behind Derek Jeter in 2001, and the lowest of the lows, which brings me to something I saw earlier this week.For those that follow the ultra-funny “Diamondbacks Memes” on Facebook or Twitter, you might have seen the discussion on the best managers in Diamondbacks’ history.
There has been six managers in the 15 year history of the Snakes. Well, actually seven if you count Wally Backman‘s four-day stint in 2004.
Diamondbacks Memes ranked the managers in the following order:
This led to a pretty spirited discussion on the correct order, but one thing that stood out among many was the Brenly should be ranked #1 for winning the World Series.
And that’s where I vehimently disagree. Here’s my order:
1. Buck Showalter – Showalter was the D’backs first ever manager as he manned the helm of an expansion franchise and almost immediately turned the team into a contender. The Diamondbacks won the NL West in 1999 with a team-record 100 wins and Showalter held a 250-236 record over three seasons before being fired.
2. Bob Melvin – Melvin oversaw my second-favorite D’backs’ team of all time in 2007 as he led the Diamondbacks to 90 wins, a NL West pennant and an appearance in the NLCS. He had his struggles at the end of 2008 as the D’backs faltered down the stretch and was let go early in 2009 after a 12-17 start but he was a tactically smart manager and one that let his players shine.
3. Kirk Gibson – This is where the list gets difficult in my mind. I fought over whether this should be Brenly or Gibson here. Yes, Brenly is a World Series champion manager but realistically, the 2001 team won despite Brenly instead of because of him. It is really early to place Gibson really anywhere on this list. He helped the Diamondbacks go from last to first in 2011 as he established a well respected and experience-ridden coaching staff. But in 2012, there were several instances that he handled poorly and his insistence on keeping the green light on the basepaths, where runners were constantly running into outs, was questionable at best.
4. Bob Brenly – Brenly really goes here by default because of the managers behind him. Yes, I have great memories from the Brenly era, but it was really almost all because of the players he had on the field instead of Brenly’s managerial style. Brenly nearly cost the Diamondbacks’ the 2001 World Series, in which they were clearly the better team. One of the biggest mistakes Brenly kept making was putting light-hitting Tony Womack in the leadoff spot with his .308 OBP in 2001. Counsell hit behind Womack, which was a smart choice with his .350 OBP, but when Womack did reach base, Brenly would have Counsell bunt Womack over to second with Luis Gonzalez, a 57-home run hitter, on deck. And don’t get me started on how badly Brenly messed up the Byung-Hyun Kim situation in game 5. Long story short, Brenly had the best players on the field and almost messed it up.
5. Al Pedrique – He was only an interim manager for 83 games in 2004. However, he managed an awful .265 winning percentage with a 22-61 record.
6. Wally Backman – Yup, I’m including Backman. He was a manager for a total of four days and still was able to get fired. “How you gonna get fired on your day off?”
7. A.J. Hinch – This is how bad Hinch was. He was awful tactically, he never gained the respect of his players and couldn’t last even 1.5 years with the club. He was fired with a 89-123 record and a bad taste in every fans’ mouth.
I know this list is very different than many will be, what would you change and why?