#13 Mike Scioscia, MGR
For tonight's installment in our countdown, Josh Mandir, co-proprietor of the Pearly Gates Blog looks at the best manager in Angels' team history. Take it away Josh...
How ironic in this recent LA-Anaheim struggle that the Angels' best manager ever was previously on pace for the same position with the Dodgers. From all accounts, he was run out of the system and the Angels swiped him up.
The Angels, meanwhile, made a common managerial change, dumping firebrand Terry Collins, for the laid back Mike Scioscia. In addition, they grabbed a former catcher and two-time World Series champion.
Scioscia has been, by a wide margin, the Angels' most successful manager. He took a team that had been an also-ran contender since the Great Collapse of 1995 and turned it into a champion and perennial contender. He has also managed widely different teams, showing that he is willing to change styles depending on what he has (the mark of a great coach). In 2000, when the comeback kids party started, the team was heavy on relief pitching and slugging. In 2001, costly injuries and a tough division (two 100 win teams; the Angels went 17-41 against division opponents and 58-46 against everyone else) led to a losing record. By 2002, the Angels were a well-balanced singles and doubles offense (only two starters had OPS+ below 100, and both of those guys were phenomenal fielders), fantastic defense, and solid pitching. Scioscia's attitude was instrumental in pulling the team up from its 6-14 start to its first World Series championship.
After another injury plagued year in 2003 (plus a major regression of starting pitchers), Scioscia led the team to their first division title since 1986. This was done almost entirely on the back of one man, Vlad the Impaler, with sluggers Tim Salmon, Troy Glaus, and Garret Anderson all going down for significant time and Jose Guillen going crazy. The way the team reacted to the Guillen situation tells a lot about their trust in Scioscia and that they know he is the guy calling the shots, not any players, by coming back from three games down with a week left in the season and winning the division.
The 2005 team held the distinction of being Scioscia's worst managing job. Granted, there were significant injuries, but he seemed to make several in-game mistakes, plus he gave too much rope to Steve Finley before finally benching him. It's pretty phenomenal that the Angels have a manager who can lead his team to 95 wins, second most in franchise history in a mistake-riddled year. And that shows what he means to this team more than any other numbers: despite his worst managerial season, Scioscia's 2005 Angels got within 7 wins from a championship, something bested by only 4 Angel teams in 46.
THANKS MISTER MANDIR
Of our Top 40 Balloters, Long suffering Angel fans LIKE MIKE! cupie and yeswecan, along with Shredder were kindest to Mike. The Cupe named him #3 all-time, YWC had him 6th with Shredder Seitz close behind, naming Mike #8. Chicks may dig the longball, but dudes prefer the ring!