No doubt, Orioles fans quickly became believers in manager Buck Showalter last season.
He took over an O’s club that was 32-73 and then went 34-23 from Aug. 3 through the end of the year.
The O’s winning percentage was .308 before he got there and .596 after he took over. The O’s posted winning records in both August and September for the first time since 1996.
But, will this truly be Showalter’s second season as O’s skipper?
Well, Steve, duh, of course it is.
Silly question, perhaps, but here is why I ask: In Buck’s second year at his three previous stops, his clubs made dramatic improvement from year one to two.
But, at all three of those other places, he managed a full 162-game first season.
His 1992 Yankees went 76-86 and finished in fourth place. A year later, they were 88-74 and moved up to second place.
The 1998 Arizona Diamondbacks went 65-97. But a season later, they went from fifth to first place with a stunning turnaround record of 100-62.
Showalter’s 2003 Texas Rangers went 71-91 and finished fourth. They moved up to third a season later at 89-73.
So his teams improved by 65 wins from year one to two for an average gain of an impressive 21.6 wins.
But, as you can see, unlike with his 2010 Orioles, none of Showalter’s previous clubs posted a winning record during his first season, but all did during year two.
Quite simply, it will be very hard, maybe near impossible, for Buck’s Birds to improve on the.596 win percentage he posted late last summer. A mark of .596 over the full season last year would have ranked as the best in the American League and second best in the majors to the Phillies.
The improvement those other clubs needed well over 100 games to make? The O’s made in just 57 in a stunning reversal late last summer.
In a sense, the O’s now don’t need to improve at all. Just win at that same .596 percentage this year and not only will they be contenders, they would almost certainly be a 2011 playoff team.
So does year two for Buck begin on Opening Day or with game 163 of his O’s tenure?
If you were told there would be no math, I apologize.
If you are mad that I took one day to write about something other than Matt Hobgood, I also apologize.
Back to Buck. I think it begins with this season’s first game. But this time, it will be difficult for his second year Orioles to match those other clubs in year two improvements.
Here are a few Showalter questions to ponder and respond to today.
What is your take on the magic of Buck that allowed him to take a team winning barely 30 percent of its games and go 34-23? How did he do it?
What is going to be his biggest challenge with the 2011 Orioles?
What would be a good marketing slogan for the team in promoting Buck’s Birds for the coming season?