The Tigers will announce today that manager Brad Ausmus’ contract will not be renewed after this season. The news comes amid a disastrous September that saw the Tigers win only four of the 21 games they have played, securing the team’s worst record since 2003.
“As we transition the ballclub in a new direction, I feel it’s best we have a new approach and a fresh start with the manager position,” GM Al Avila said in a press release. “Brad has done an admirable job under, at times, difficult circumstances, especially this season, and we appreciate his professionalism and dedication to the Tigers the past four years. Our search for a new manager is underway. We plan to keep an open-mind in considering current members of the coaching staff for positions in 2018, but that will be in conjunction with the manager we hire.”
The Tigers have struggled mightily this season, and it often seems the easiest place to shift the blame is onto the shoulders of Ausmus. “He’s too rigid,” some suggest. Yes, Ausmus seemed to stick to the notion that every man in the bullpen had his role, and those roles were meant to be adhered to, sometimes to the detriment of the game. He was notorious for giving struggling starters too much rope, only to watch them hang themselves with it. Ausmus was, by no means, a perfect manager. He also wasn’t the reason the team failed this season.
A myriad of forces seemed to come into play in 2017, all working against the Tigers. Early injuries, players not heating up early, opposing teams that were simply better in some cases, trades of star players like Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton, as well as reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila. It was a perfect storm to mark the end of an era dating back to 2006.
During his tenure with the Tigers Ausmus has had a .490 win percentage, with 312 wins and 325 losses through Thursday’s loss. Prior to this season only 2015 ended with a sub .500 win record. Jim Leyland, who preceded Ausmus as the Tigers’ skipper, had a .540 average with the team, posting 700 wins in 8 years and 597 losses. The only year the team fell below .500 with Leyland was 2008.
Comparing managers is difficult, because Ausmus and Leyland are different men, with different styles, and fans were polarized on both of them, often demanding Leyland be fired during any minor slump as well.
We’ll see what direction the Tigers plan to as the rebuild goes into full effect in 2018.