Are MLB Teams Too Quick To Change Managers?

Sometimes years of managing can be judged by one or two decisions in the playoffs. Is that really fair?
Posted at 10:05 PM, Oct 26, 2017

In Major League Baseball, a bad postseason can spell doom for a team's manager. And that might just be totally unfair. 

In October 2017, the Red Sox's John Farrell, the Nationals' Dusty Baker and the Yankees' Joe Girardi all heard from their bosses they wouldn't be back with their teams next season. 

Firing a manager is a common strategy for a losing team trying to reverse its fortunes, but that's not what's happening here. All of those managers' teams made the postseason in 2017.

Baker and Farrell both won back-to-back division titles in their last two seasons with their teams. And Girardi's Yankees had the best record in baseball during his 10 years as manager, coming within one win of making the 2017 World Series.

It seems all that big-picture stuff doesn't carry much weight, though. Instead, there's intense scrutiny on how managers perform in postseason games, which can sometimes come down to one or two key decisions.

For Girardi, one big blemish was not challenging a crucial wrong call made by umpires during a playoff game — a mistake he owned up to the next day.

"I screwed up," Girardi said at a press conference the day after the game. "And it's hard. It's a hard day for me."

Still, expecting MLB managers to consistently advance through the postseason is a big ask, especially when considering the randomness involved.

A 2013 study from Harvard University found MLB's postseason was the worst of the four major American sports at picking a deserving champion. It even said drawing straws might be a better way to pick the World Series than what baseball has now.

All in all, MLB teams' hiring and firing of managers might be just as random. Another study from 2014 found there was no correlation between how much a manager was paid and whether his team reached the playoffs.