Managing in today’s MLB is a challenging task because the game is changing, and skippers need to adapt.
There are more resources at hand, available for managers at all times, that they need to understand and use in order to keep up with the new times.
Yet, a manager can never lose the essence of the game and should have the respect of his players.
Here are two of the most underrated managers in MLB today.
2. Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers
Craig Counsell has been managing the Milwaukee Brewers for quite some time now, since 2015.
In his first two seasons at the helm, Milwaukee was rebuilding and finished below .500.
Since 2017, however, the team began to contend and was very, very close to going to the World Series in 2018, when the Brew Crew fell in the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This year, he has a 53-39 record heading into the All-Star break and has a four-game advantage on the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central.
That 53-39 record is, for reference, better than the New York Mets and the San Diego Padres.
Counsell is a big reason behind Milwaukee’s success.
Craig Counsell is a criminally underrated manager. Three straight trips for the Brew Crew to October. https://t.co/V2CACA5cSH
— Alec Henden (@alec_henden) September 27, 2020
He is smart, has a lot of baseball knowledge that goes back to his days as a utilityman, and players respect him.
As a manager, he gets the most out of his ability and usually gives his team the best chance to win.
He makes few mistakes and is forward-thinking: he uses shifts and knows when to remove a pitcher from the game.
He also uses platoons to get the best possible offensive production from his lineup.
This year, thanks to some excellent performance from his starting rotation, the Brewers have a good chance of running away with the NL Central crown and, why not, making a deep postseason run.
Barring something unexpected, the underrated Counsell will be there to lead them.
1. Alex Cora, Boston Red Sox
Perhaps Alex Cora doesn’t really fit the mold of ‘underrated’, because a sizable portion of the baseball universe, formed by coaches, players, fans, executives, and media recognize his true worth as a leader.
However, we don’t speak enough about his intelligence and shrewdness, not to mention his sound decision-making.
As a manager, Cora has a case as being a top three in MLB, and we don’t talk about that enough.
Perhaps he lost the respect of some people within MLB because of his implication in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in 2017.
Back then, when he was the Astros’ bench coach, he was one of the main actors behind the sign-stealing scheme, together with former player Carlos Beltran.
The 2018 Boston Red Sox, a team he managed and with which he won the World Series, also reportedly used cameras to steal catchers’ signs.
As a result of these situations, Cora was suspended for the 2020 season.
It’s possible his reputation is tainted, but there is no denying he is a top manager in MLB.
That’s why Boston risked the PR hit and re-hired him once he was done with his suspension.
He won the World Series in 2018, in his first season leading the Red Sox, with 108 wins in the regular season and eliminating the Yankees along the way.
This season, when no one expected Boston to compete, he is leading the American League East heading to the All-Star break.
He is a difference-maker, he embraces analytics and has an excellent baseball feel.
Alex Cora is so underrated as a manger #dirtywater
— RUBIO (@5thBowl) May 10, 2021
He is an elite manager.