As MLB’s stars get younger, the ones calling the shots from the dugout seem to be doing the same. Is this trend here to stay?
They say it’s a young man’s game, and while that seems to be increasingly true on the field, it may also be the case in the dugout. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated believes MLB’s youth movement is resulting in a trend toward younger managers as well.
Tune in to the World Series for even just a few minutes and you’ll see plenty of baseball’s fledgling stars on display. Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger are all age 23 or younger. Jose Altuve and George Springer downright seem like elder statesmen at 27 and 28 years old, respectively.
Many big league clubs seem seem to be eschewing veteran managers with decades of experience in the game in favor of former players who aren’t so far removed from their days on the field. As Verducci points out, the recent firings and hirings over the past few weeks appear to support this notion.
Dusty Baker, Terry Collins and Pete Mackanin – all well into their 60s – were removed from their managerial roles earlier this month. The Mets gave their open job to 42-year-old Mickey Callaway, previously the pitching coach of the Cleveland Indians. The Red Sox canned 55-year-old John Farrell and will replace him with Alex Cora, 42.
Age also seems to have been a factor in the Yankees’ surprising dismissal of Joe Girardi. Reports claim the team prefers someone more “analytical” with a “human touch.” That certainly sounds like they’re angling for a new skipper who will better relate to the burgeoning crop of youngsters that almost led them to the World Series. At 53, Girardi certainly isn’t ancient, but this is the changing game we’re dealing with.
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Of course, there are still exceptions to the pattern. The Tigers let go of 48-year-old Brad Ausmus and hired one of baseball’s more familiar faces in Ron Gardenhire. The 60-year-old managed the Twins for 13 seasons from 2002 to 2014.
Will this wave of younger, more “contemporary” managers only continue to grow? Baseball is prone to fads and trends just like any other industry, meaning it’s difficult to say with absolute certainty that the pendulum won’t begin to swing back at some point. However, this isn’t exactly a recent phenomenon.
Verducci points out that the Red Sox raised some eyebrows by hiring a 30-year-old numbers-driven general manager named Theo Epstein back in 2002. His success created a ripple effect around the league, with more youthful minds beginning to push back against traditional ways of thinking in both the front office and dugout.
Ultimately, teams will hire the manager they believe is the best fit for their squad. While it’s a stretch to say anyone is entering a hiring process mandating that the final candidate meet a specific age requirement, it’s clear many franchises are weighing this factor more heavily. The ability to connect and communicate with a player base that is skewing younger will only grow in importance.