First-year managers have always been a big deal in the MLB, and this year, some of the biggest and best ball clubs are trying to win a World Series with a rookie at the helm. A few teams have shown that the managerial change was necessary, and others still seem to be in the middle of a rebuild. Let’s take a look at how each first-year manager is doing with their new club.
Ron Gardenhire- Detroit Tigers
We can start with the only guy in the group who doesn’t have his first managerial job.
The Tigers weren’t expected to truly compete for anything this season, but Gardenhire has been able to keep the team somewhat relevant to this point. While future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera sits on the disabled list, the team’s potential All-Star candidate Nicholas Castellanos has led the way for the team, as they are only sitting at seven games under .500, a surprising mark for this Tigers team that doesn’t really have a ton of talent. The AL Central has been arguably baseball’s weakest division up until this point, so don’t count Gardenhire’s Tigers team out just yet.
Gabe Kapler- Philadelphia Phillies
Possibly the biggest surprise of the group, Kapler has started to restore a Phillies team that looked like a lost cause over the last few seasons. Kapler himself made some early season gaffes as manager, but those are growing pains that every rookie manager will have to go through. Since then, the Phillies have been on a tear and keeping up with baseball’s most surprising team, the Atlanta Braves.
Dave Martinez- Washington Nationals
After years of Dusty Baker at the helm and not a lot of playoff success to show for it, the Nationals made a change and put Dave Martinez in charge. In a surprisingly tough NL East division, the Nationals are currently sitting in fourth place, and are three games out of first. Their record is a little misleading to this point, as the Nationals had a stretch during the week of May 14thwhere they weren’t able to finish a game for six straight days! But no matter, Martinez has taken over a team with a lot of talent and managed it well to this point, but we’ll see what he and his coaching staff are really made of when it comes down to crunch time in August and September, but don’t let any of that fool you, these early season games matter, and might come back to bite this team.
Mickey Callaway- New York Mets
Sticking with the NL East AGAIN (last one here, I promise) Callaway led the Mets off to an incredibly impressive start early in the season, but they have come back down to Earth since that point. Callaway has had a lot of great moments early on in his managerial career, but he has also given baseball its worst moment of the season. During a game against the Cincinnati Reds, Callaway posted the wrong lineup card in the dugout, forcing the Mets to hit out of order. An embarrassing mistake from Callaway, but if he can find a way to overcome Jacob DeGrom’s injury, and keep the Mets in the playoff hunt, he’ll be a contender for Manager of the Year.
Aaron Boone- New York Yankees
Boone, who was pretty much handed this job because of one home run, hasn’t disappointed Yankee fans up to this point. After a slow start to the season, the Yankees hit their stride, winning 17 out of 19 at one point. Boone has shown at times that he has what it takes to be a great manager, but he was also gifted a super team, with one of the best bullpens in the league, and a lineup built to hit a ton of home runs in every park, let alone baseball’s smallest park. Boone has done a good job up to this point, and if he can avoid any major mistakes and injuries, this Yankee team might be able to coast to the playoffs. The AL East might be hotly contested though, thanks to another rookie manager in the division.
Alex Cora- Boston Red Sox (32-15)
Cora has had arguably the best impact of any rookie manager on this list. There were major problems between former manager John Farrell and just about everyone you can think of, from the media, to the players on the team. Cora, who got the Sox off to a 17-2 start, have come back down to Earth after the best start in team history, going 15-13 since, but he’s had his team playing excellent baseball. Cora’s impact has gone far beyond on the field, he’s impacted the clubhouse by giving it a much looser atmosphere, and the Red Sox are just playing much more together. Cora has made themes for all road trips, and the players really seem to be enjoying it. Combining that with the talent on this Red Sox team, and the AL East will be a hotly contested division come September.