This April, the Detroit Tigers will start their first season in eight years without manager Jim Leyland in the dugout. Leyland’s career record over his eight years with Detroit was 700-597 and only had one losing record in that time period. Now that Leyland has stepped down, will they miss him? Probably.
Before Leyland arrived in Detroit, the Tigers were on a playoff drought, having not made the playoffs since 1987 In Leyland’s first year with Detroit in 2006, he led the Tigers all the way to the World Series, only to eventually lose in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite not having won a World Series that year, he brought baseball life back into Detroit.
After missing the playoffs the next four years, the organization did not quit on Leyland and decided to stick with him.
From 2011 to 2013, Leyland went on to lead the Tigers to three straight AL-Central titles, three ALCS appearances, and one World Series appearance ending in a sweep to the San Francisco Giants. The winning culture that Leyland established in Detroit brought over big names like Prince Fielder, Torii Hunter, and recently signed relief pitcher Joe Nathan all with one goal: to win.
With Leyland stepping down and taking a job in the Tigers front office, former Tigers catcher Brad Ausmus takes over a team loaded with talent and an upgraded bullpen which was the Tigers biggest weakness the past two seasons.
While some people think Leyland may offer some input about how the Tigers should be ran as far as their play, Leyland says otherwise stating “I will not interfere with Brad Ausmus’ team.” If Ausmus is a great manager though, how can he lose with this squad? He has two All-Star pitchers in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, a revamped bullpen led by Joe Nathan and Joba Chamberlain looking to be better in 2014, and a Triple Crown winner and back-to-back MVP in Miguel Cabrera. All this combined with other pieces are what make Detroit the favorite to make it to the World Series in 2014.
While the Tigers want to prove they can win without Leyland, it would be hard to replace a man who has made himself a legend in Detroit just from the dugout. Even though his future in the Baseball Hall of Fame is up in the air, one thing is for sure. Leyland brought baseball back to the Motor City.