After losing to the Boston Red sox in the ALCS, fans are out for blood. Some will be calling for Jim Leyland to be fired. Those fans will cite a long line of playoff and regular season failures as the reasons to fire Jim Leyland.
It may feel good to blame one guy for the teams under-performance but that would be shortsighted. Jim Leyland is a great manager and deserves better from Detroit.
In fact Jim Leyland is one of the best managers in Detroit Tigers franchise history. That’s right the best. Better even than Sparky Anderson and here is proof.
- Leyland has a 700-597 record in the regular season for a .540 winning percentage. His 700 wins ranks third all-time in franchise history.
- He has three straight division titles. A feat matched only by Hughie Jennings 1907-1909.
- He has five straight seasons without a losing record (2009-2013)
- Since Leyland’s hiring in 2006 he has finished with a losing record just once. (2008)
- Jim Leyland has three 90 win seasons in 8 seasons with the Tigers. To put this in perspective Sparky Anderson has three 90 win seasons in 17 years. Hughie Jennings had 4 in 14 years as Tigers manager.
- Although they were both loses, Jim Leyland has two World Series appearances. Second only to Hughie Jennings (3) and tied with Mickey Cochrane.
A historically savvy fan could argue the Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings, who managed from 1907-1920 is the best Tigers manager ever. However the era of baseball in which Jennings managed was much different from today’s baseball. There were fewer teams and fewer playoff rounds. It is difficult to compare managers from the turn of the century to managers from the modern era.
When comparing Leyland to Sparky Anderson, there is no contest. Jim Leyland clearly has had more success that Sparky. Leyland has more pennants ,world series appearances and a better winning percentage in 8 years than Sparky Anderson did over 17 years.
So before disgruntled fans pull the trigger on Jim Leylands tenure in Detroit. They should ask themselves the following question.
Is it the right time to fire one of the best managers in franchise history after his third consecutive division championship and third consecutive trip to the ALCS?
The answer is NO! Doing that would be the easy way out. It was the players that lost the series. Leyland did all he could to keep them in it.
Do not fire Jim Leyland. It would be the worst mistake this franchise could make.