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Is Ron Gardenhire a Good Hire for the Tigers?

After weeks of interviews, it appears the search for a new Manager is over for the Detroit Tigers.  Ron Gardenhire, the former Minnesota Twins Manager (2002-2014) who led their franchise to six AL Central Championships (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010) during his tenure there will now lead this young Tigers team.  

An overall record of 1068-1039 with the Twins, including eight winning seasons and five losing seasons.  Gardenhire was named American League Manager of the Year in 2010, with a 94-68 record.  Despite the regular season success the Twins enjoyed from 2002-2010, they won only one ALDS, in 2002, defeating the Oakland Athletics in five games.  They lost in the ALCS to the eventual World Series Champion Anaheim Angels.  His Twins teams enjoyed this era of success with a young team and a limited payroll.   

Gardenhire’s years in Minnesota were largely marked by doing more with less and developing young talents like Justin Morneau (2006 AL MVP), Joe Mauer (2009 AL MVP) and Johan Santana (2004 AL Cy Young).  Given the Tigers are in a rebuilding phase, he may be exactly what the team needs.  Gardenhire is an experienced MLB Manager, who came up through the Twins organization and also spent the 2017 season as a bench coach with a talented Arizona Diamondbacks team.  

Some will argue (already have), that Gardenhire is an old school Manager from a bygone era, not suited to lead a young ballclub in a rebuilding stage. Gardenhire is considered an “old school” Manager, relying more on gut instincts than analytics.  During his first press conference in Detroit, Gardenhire addressed his critics:  

“I just went through the analytic department and told all those guys that I love them. With the Diamondbacks, I got a firsthand look and saw it work. I don’t mind being called old-school. We all learned to play baseball old-school, but you can never stop learning, and I don’t want to stop learning.”

While the critics of Gardenhire bring up fair concerns, the Tigers learned first hand with Brad Ausmus, experience matters.  With Gardenhire, the Tigers get a seasoned Manager who has seen the game evolve over the course of the last two decades.  By signing a three year contract, both sides have little to lose.  This young Tigers team needs leadership, someone to guide them through the process, growing prospects into MLB players.  Gardenhire has proven himself on that front in Minnesota.  Conversely, Ron Gardenhire gets another shot at managing in the Big Leagues.  Many Tigers fans are eager to see this new era begin.  

See you in Lakeland, Skip! 

Brian is the Managing Editor at Legends on Deck and Co-Host on Legends On Deck Podcast. He's been writing about baseball at LOD since 2017. He grew up in the Detroit area and is a lifelong Tigers fan. However, he shares some affinity for his son George's favorite team, the Atlanta Braves. Brian also has a particular interest in the amateur side of the game, including high school, college and collegiate summer league baseball. Brian and George also love collecting and selling baseball cards. You can find them selling on eBay (@Kossball) or posting on George's Instagram (@Kossball). Brian lives in Horizon West (Winter Garden), Florida with his wife (Grace), three daughters and George the Card Kid. You can also reach him at

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