Is Jim Leyland doing the best work of his managerial career with the 2010 Detroit Tigers? Nick Cafardo makes the argument in his notes column for Sunday's Boston Globe.
This may be his best managing job, considering he has four rookies who could get 300 at-bats. Catcher [Alex] Avila may get more time with starter Gerald Laird hitting .154. Danny Worth will start at shortstop with Adam Everett designated for assignment. Center fielder Austin Jackson and right fielder Brennan Boesch are well on their way. According to Stats Inc., the last time the Tigers had four rookies get 300 at-bats was 1954, with Bill Tuttle, Frank House, Frank Bolling, and Al Kaline.
That doesn't include second baseman Scott Sizemore and outfielder Casper Wells, two more rookies Leyland has had to work into the lineup. (Though neither player will reach the 300 at-bat yardstick by which Cafardo is measuring.)
Keeping a team in contention while also trying to get younger (whether by necessity or choice) might be one of the more difficult things to do in professional team sports. This could eventually catch up with the Tigers, as they try to keep pace with the Twins in the AL Central. But 62 games into the season, those rookies are helping Detroit stay in contention.
Record-wise, Leyland's best team was the 1991 Pittsburgh Pirates, who went 98-64. He's won 90 games five times in a 19-year major league career. And, of course, he won the World Series in 1997 with the Florida Marlins.