Baseball player-managers have become myths, totally extinct in today’s game. Still, in the early 1900s major league players often doubled as managers for their clubs during the season. The strategy saved teams money and relied on these men to step into positions of leadership. Thus, veterans or revered players usually filled this role, hoping to set a good example for those in the clubhouse.
For a full list of baseball player managers, look here.
Here at The Game Haus, modern baseball player-managers are being re-imagined. In this series, writers give their arguments for players best equipped to lead their team as skipper. The only requirement is that the player must be either in his team’s 60 man player pool or recovering from a major injury.
This week features player choices for clubs in the American League West.
Houston Astros: SP Zack Greinke
As far as resumes go, there aren’t many more interesting to read than Zack Greinke’s. He’s found a way to collect six Gold Glove awards, win a Cy Young and earn two Silver Slugger awards. That’s no small feat considering Greinke has spent less than half of his 17-year career in the National League. He is arguably the second best pitcher on the Astros roster, though Justin Verlander won’t be of use to the club in the immediate future. Greinke fits the bill for player-manager through his baseball tenure and athleticism on the field. Leading a staff of young pitchers is just the pet project to prolong Greinke’s career and cement him in the Hall of Fame. How many players can say they were a baseball player manager? It also doesn’t hurt that the right-hander was nowhere near Houston during their infamous 2017 season.
Other Options: Josh Reddick
Oakland Athletics: DH Khris Davis
One trait central to baseball player-managers’ performances should be consistency. Preferably extended consistency, if teams can find it. Oakland’s Khris Davis fills this role perfectly. From 2015 to 2018 Davis hit .247 every season while averaging 40 home runs. Try finding any four-season stretch like that in baseball history. Davis has been with the A’s since 2016 and has the capability to lead young sluggers like Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. While Oakland has formed itself into a perennial playoff team, players like Davis have been integral in the club’s low-payroll high-success strategy. His offensive prowess and familiarity with the organization structure position Davis well as baseball player-manager. Nevermind how intimidating this bomber looks in Oakland’s classic Kelly green and gold.
Los Angeles Angels: 1B/DH Albert Pujols
Make no mistake, Albert Pujols is still a force at the plate. After an impressive home run on Tuesday, Pujols moved within three blasts from tying Willie Mays (would have been a great player-manager!) for fifth all-time on baseball’s home run list. While superstar Mike Trout patrols center field in Los Angeles, he definitely does not need any more pressure placed on him. Instead, their ranks can turn to Pujols, who’s made a career for himself out of his production, playable defense and composure in the biggest moments. The Angels’ strength lies in their lineup, where Pujols’ experience becomes invaluable after the addition of Anthony Rendon this offseason. Even in a short 60 games, there won’t be anything Pujols hasn’t seen before. He is the epitome of a veteran who could flourish in this role.
Seattle Mariners: 3B Kyle Seager
No one can deny that the Mariners are rebuilding. They suffered through 94 losses a season ago after Robinson Canó left for the Pacific Northwest for New York. Kyle Seager stayed as stable as ever though, hitting 23 home runs and manning the hot corner for the club, as he’s done since 2011. What’s more, Seager’s value comes from his old school approach to the game. In a media session earlier this month, Seager admitted he hadn’t used Zoom before; he didn’t even have internet access at his home. Even if unintentional, Seager’s comments assure fans and players that he doesn’t care what anyone says about him. That’s why he stays off the grid. Instagram posts and Twitter battles might be fine for younger guys, but all Seager needs is a bat, ball and glove. On a team brimming with rookie talent, this lefty’s approach among baseball player-managers will let players’ performances speak for themselves.
Other Options: Dee Gordon
Texas Rangers: SP Mike Minor
Globe Life Field is newly open in Arlington this year and filled with Ranger aces. Starter Mike Minor dominated last season, even more than his season’s 3.59 ERA would indicate. He’s 32 years-old and anchors a solid starting rotation in Texas. That rotation could be the club’s biggest advantage in the AL West (besides Joey Gallo) when all is said and done. Minor converted to the bullpen for just one season in 2017. The move came after he returned from injuries that sidelined Minor for the previous two seasons. The experience and versatility Minor brings to Texas is both unique and inspiring. Minor’s career trajectory would lend to teachable moments for younger players and give the Rangers inspiration in what figures to be a difficult division.
“From Our Haus to Yours“