The Washington Nationals today named Jim Riggleman field manager. Nationals President Stan Kasten and Nationals Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the joint announcement.
Riggleman will return in 2010 after posting a 33-42 (.440) record upon assuming the Nationals’ helm on July 13. Riggleman’s Nationals displayed marked improvement in extra-inning (3-1), one-run (13-9) and NL East (17-16) contests despite having a rookie starting pitcher toe the rubber 45 times in 75 games (60%). His club also posted eight- (August 2-9) and seven-game (September 28-October 4) winning streaks to account for two of the Nationals’ four longest winning streaks since big league baseball returned to The District in 2005.
Defensively, the Nationals allowed 11 fewer unearned runs after the All-Star break compared to before, a trend mirrored by an improved fielding percentage (.979 in second half, .975 in first half) under Riggleman’s gaze. Riggleman’s renewed emphasis on defense and fundamentals paid nearly immediate dividends as only 10 of Washington’s 37 multi-error contests in 2009 came after the All-Star break.
Riggleman’s post All-Star break tenure also featured a precipitous drop in the Nationals’ ERA (4.75), which fell almost half a run from the 5.21 mark posted prior to the All-Star break. Washington’s ERA improvement of 0.46--first half compared to the second half--ranked fourth in the National League, seventh in baseball. The pitching improvement was especially evident in Riggleman’s bullpen, which posted a 4.35 ERA compared to Washington’s 5.71 relief ERA in the season’s first half.
The Nationals are Riggleman’s fourth big league managing job. He has compiled a 585-694 record while managing San Diego (1992-94), Chicago-NL (1995-99), Seattle (2008) and Washington (2009-present). He posted a pair of winning records in five seasons with the Cubs, including a 90-73 (.552) record and a NL Wild Card in 1998.
Riggleman draws off 29 professional seasons of experience as a manager or coach, 17 at the big league level. Riggleman has served stewardships under Tony LaRussa, Jerry Manuel and Jim Tracy, among others.
A third baseman by trade, Riggleman played eight professional seasons after being drafted by the Dodgers in the 1974 First-Year Player Draft out of Frostburg State (MD) University. Riggleman grew up in nearby Rockville, MD and is a graduate of Richard Montgomery (MD) High School.