11/17/10 3:57 PM EST
Showalter did plenty in shortened first season
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
So while Showalter didn't the American League Manager of the Year Award -- the Twins' Ron Gardenhire did -- O's fans can only hope that this year's final 57 games were a precursor of good things to come.
Under Showalter, the Orioles more than doubled their season win total to mark the first time since 1900 that a manager took over a team in August or later and won more games the rest of the way (34) than the team did before he got there (32). Showalter also became the first manager in Major League history to win at least seven of his first eight games after taking over a team midseason that was at least 20 games under .500.
With the return of Brian Roberts, Felix Pie and Michael Gonzalez from the disabled list, "Buck's Birds" reinvigorated an Orioles fanbase disappointed and disheartened by the team play through the first third of the season. Here are the notable Orioles highlights from Showalter's regime, which officially started with an Aug. 2 news conference:
The Orioles went 17-11 in August and 17-13 in September/October, their most wins in the final two months of the season since 1996. The '96 season also marked the last time the O's had posted back-to-back winning months to close out the season. The last winning August for the organization came in '97, and the 17 wins in a month was the most wins in a month since September 2004, when they went 18-10.
Baltimore's 34 wins under Showalter included four of its last five and 17 of its last 27 games. The O's also tied the all-time record (held by the 1997 Phillies) for most wins by a club following its 73rd loss.
The O's went 14-13 against the AL East under Showalter, after going 10-35 combined under Trembley and Samuel. Baltimore won 11 of its final 18 series -- including trips to New York, Boston and Tampa Bay -- after winning just four of the preceding 34.
The O's won four consecutive series from Sept. 3-15, posting W's against Tampa Bay, New York, Detroit and Toronto. It was the first time they had won four straight series since Aug. 3-15, 2004.
Through Aug. 2, the Orioles were last in the AL with a .217 average with runners in scoring position. Starting with a 6-3 win over the Angels on Aug. 3, Showalter's inaugural game at the helm, the O's hit .300 with runners in scoring position to lead the league over that span.
But one of the most astonishing turnarounds under Showalter was that of the pitching staff as a largely inexperienced group of arms -- several nearing their career highs in innings -- flourished down the stretch. In their last trip through the starting rotation, Brad Bergesen, Kevin Millwood, Chris Tillman, Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz combined to go 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA. They allowed just five earned runs over 35 innings pitched.
The O's starters made quality starts in 36 of 57 games, posting a 3.16 cumulative ERA under Showalter. The pitching staff as a whole posted a 3.54 ERA under him, compared with a 5.18 mark in the 105 games prior.
While Showalter deflected praise, preferring to attribute the surge to a finally healthy squad and a group of young arms hitting their stride, there was no doubt that his arrival sparked the club.
"How could you not be [impressed]?" president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said in the final weeks of the season regarding Showalter. "Sometimes a managerial change -- a real change -- is like setting the reset button. And guys feel like they got a fresh slate. It's not unlike Colorado, when Jim Tracy was named [manager]. Same players all of a sudden they went on a run that ended in the postseason. And since Buck's got here, our players have set the reset button."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.