Nationals exercise Davey Johnson’s managerial option

The Washington Nationals today announced they have exercised Davey Johnson’s managerial option for the 2012 season. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Johnson will continue the on-field efforts he began on June 27, when he assumed the Nationals’ managerial helm.

“After a series of discussions, it became obvious that the Nationals would be best served if Davey Johnson would continue as manager,” Rizzo said. “Davey’s remarkable connection to the clubhouse and D.C. community during the season’s final three months was well received. His baseball acumen coupled with a proper off-season of planning, including a full regiment of Spring Training, should put our players in a position to succeed in 2012.”

Johnson’s 2011 Nationals closed strong, winning 15 of their final 20 contests to register the best winning percentage in the NL from Sept. 9 through season’s end. In more than half a season with Johnson at the helm, the Nationals went 40-43 and a D.C.-based big league club finished as high as third place for the first time since 1945.

In 2011, for the second time in his career, Johnson took a big league manager’s job in the middle of a season. He did the same with Cincinnati in 1993, and one season later, his Reds finished atop the NL Central standings with a .579 winning percentage during the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. Johnson’s ‘96 Orioles won 88 games and claimed the AL’s Wild Card in his first full season as manager in Baltimore.

A former World Series winning player and manager, Johnson has skippered five big league clubs (Nationals, Dodgers, Orioles, Reds, Mets) in 15 seasons, compiling a 1188-931 record and a .561 career winning percentage that ranks second to only Earl Weaver (.583) among living managers with 10 or more years of experience.

In 15 big league seasons, Johnson’s clubs finished first or second 11 times, including five division titles, one pennant and one World Championship earned with the Mets in 1986. Johnson’s clubs authored six 90-win campaigns and his 1994 Reds were on pace for 94 wins and led the NL Central at the time of the strike. His 1986 and ‘88 Mets registered triple-digit win totals, posting 108 and 100 victories, respectively.

In 1997, Johnson was named American League Manager of the Year after guiding the Orioles to a 98-64 (.605) record. Those ‘97 Orioles claimed the AL East flag, finishing 2.0 games ahead of the 96-win Yankees.

He is one of only six living men to have won a World Series ring as a player and manager, joining Alvin Dark, Joe Girardi, Lou Piniella, Mike Scioscia and Red Schoendienst.

Johnson joined the Nationals as a Special Assistant to the General Manager on Nov. 18, 2009 after managing Team USA to a semi-finals berth in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Johnson has managed or coached five Team USA professional squads since 2005, including the 2008 Olympic team.

As a player, Johnson hit .261 with 136 home runs and 609 RBI in 13 big league seasons during a career that included a stint in Japan. Johnson was a four-time All-Star, won three Gold Gloves, played in five post-seasons and earned a pair of World Series rings with the Orioles in 1966 and 1970. He also owns the distinction of being the only player in the history of the game to have hit behind Hank Aaron and Japan’s all-time home run king, Sadaharu Oh.

Johnson was among the 10 finalists for consideration among managers and umpires for Hall of Fame election through the Veterans Committee in 2009.