The first domino has fallen in the wake of the Washington Nationals bowing out of their fourth NLDS in six seasons, with the team announcing Friday that Manager Dusty Baker will not return as the club’s skipper in 2018. The Nationals released a statement on the decision, first released by ESPN 980 in Washington:
— ESPN 980 (@espn980) October 20, 2017
Nationals Fire Manager Dusty Baker
Baker was hired in advance of the 2016 season following a lengthy tenure with the Cincinnati Reds, guiding a talented Nationals roster to a pair of NL East division titles and a combined 192-132 record. But Baker was brought in primarily to solve the Nats’ postseason woes, which he was unable to do in his two seasons at the helm after consecutive game five NLDS losses on their home field to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs.
The past six years have been a frustrating time for a Nationals franchise that has won more than 90 games on four occasions and posted a combined 555-417 record, but failed to advance past the NLDS. Baker was the latest of three managers the Nats have fired over that span, with Davey Johnson winning NL Manager of the Year in 2012 and Matt Williams taking home that same award in 2014. All three skippers posted regular season winning percentages over the .550 mark, but elusive success in October has been each of their respective downfalls.
Postseason success has also eluded Baker personally in his managerial career, advancing as far as the World Series in 2002 with the San Francisco Giants. Baker has a 23-32 career record in October, appearing in the postseason nine times in 22 seasons as a manager. Overall, the 68-year-old skipper has a career in 1,863-1,636 record his 3,500 games managed since 1993, and would be an attractive option for clubs looking for an experienced manager this winter.
The Nationals, on the other hand, will begin the search process for a new manager for the fourth time since 2011. Washington joins the list of teams who presently have a managerial vacancy along with the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and Boston Red Sox.
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