Many people seem to think that a baseball manager can do very little to actually win (or lose) a game. After all, it’s up to the players to hit, pitch, and play defense. The manager only has so much control over things, most notably pitching changes.
In the 2016 American League Wild Card game, Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter curiously refused to use his lights out closer Zach Britton, despite the game being tied at 2-2 in extra innings. His rationale was that he was saving Britton for when the O’s finally took the lead. In the meantime he trotted out regular starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the bottom of the 11th inning, who proceeded to blow up and give up a three-run walk-off dinger to Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion. Showalter was promptly roasted by fans and media for leaving one of the best pitchers in the game on the bench when their season was on the line. Even diehard Baltimore fans were calling for Showalter, a three-time Manager of the Year, to be fired for his blunder.
Here are 7 more of the most epically bad managerial decisions in MLB playoff history.
Golfers get only so many clubs in the bag to do the job on the PGA Tour. And major league managers only have 25 players to utilize come playoff time. Colorado Rockies manager Don Baylor emptied his proverbial bag in 1995 in Game 1 of the NLDS against Atlanta — and paid dearly for it. He may have later been voted Manager of the Year for taking the Rockies to the playoffs in just their third season, but his bench management that night was strictly little league. The mighty Braves had to start on the road in that five-game series and held a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the ninth of a see-saw game. The Rockies would rally, though, with pinch hitter Mike Kingery (CF) singling with one out. Left fielder Dante Bichette followed with another single and Larry Walker drew a base on balls to load the bases. Braves’ reliever Mark Wohlers was able to get Andres Galarraga, who was 2-for-4, out. Following the “Big Cat” that day was Ellis Burks, who was 2-for-3. But wait, he was subbed out for Kingery. Left with no position players to pinch hit, Baylor had to go with pitcher Lance Painter. He struck out. In his first playoff game as manager, Don Baylor whiffed and his team would lose the series 3-1 to eventual champion Atlanta.