Ron Gardenhhire’s Minnesota Twins are well on their way to winning the AL Central.

This would be Gardenhire‘s sixth division title in nine years.

Another division title was within reach, if not for a 1-0 loss in game 163 against the Chicago White Sox in 2008.

Since he took over for Tom Kelly in 2002, Gardenhire‘s record is 792-644, a .551 winning percent.

He has guided the Twins to four ninety-win seasons, and his team is poised for its fifth this season. Compare that to only three for Kelly over 15 seasons. 

Only once have the Twins finished below .500 under Gardenhire‘s leadership.  

Incredibly over the same time span, every other AL Central division team has had their skipper named the AL Manager of the Year, while Gardenhire has finished second five times—twice to a division counterpart.

His .551 winning percentage is better than any of the last 10 AL managers to win the award.

Has his success been held against him?

Here are some interesting statistics for the AL Manager of the Year winner since 2000.

  • 2009: Mike Scioscia’s Angels lost three more games than the previous season.
  • The average turn around from the previous season is 23.3 more wins. Gardenhire‘s best turnaround has been only 13 wins.
  • The average record for the winner was 97-65. Gardenhire‘s best season was 96-66 in 2006.
  • 2003: Tony Pena’s Royals improved an incredible 34 games from 2002—and still finished third in the AL Central.
  • Four of the 10 winners of the award did not win their division.


Is the fact that Gardenhire took over for a two-time World Series Champion manager being held against him? Kelly, even though he won to World Series Championships, never had to win a divisional round in the playoffs.

Until the team started to increase its payroll, he has managed one of the lowest payrolls every year.

Gardenhire has done more with less than every other manager, with perhaps the exception of Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay, who won the award in 2008. In his first season, while managing the lowest payroll in baseball, Gardenhire had to also deal with the foreboding talk of contraction of the team—a year in which the Twins won 94 games.

There’s talk that Texas Ranger’s manager, Ron Washington, is the leading candidate this season. The Rangers should win the AL West for the first time since 1999. But the division is weak, and the Rangers may not finish with a record any better than last season.

The problem is Gardenhire and the Twins have been a consistent, winning ball club.

The manager of the year is usually recognized for turning around a losing team, something Gardenhire has not had to do.

Perhaps for next year, the Twins should tank it, and strive to lose, so Gardenhire has a chance in 2012.

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