In today’s game of baseball, managers have less say in the decisions of their team than ever. Teams make predetermined decisions that are analytically driven, limiting the manager’s ability to impact the game. Although managers are given less credit now than ever, Gabe Kapler’s effect on his team stood out above all others in 2021. What is the “Gabe Kapler Effect?”
About Gabe Kapler
After retiring from playing, Kapler served as a coach for Team Israel in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He began his professional coaching career in 2014 as the Director of Player Development for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kapler was with the Dodgers organization until 2017 and is partially responsible for the Dodgers player development success stories. He was given an opportunity to manage the 2018 Philadelphia Phillies. In his two seasons with the Phillies, Kapler was not appreciated by fans.
In 2018, the Phillies went 80-82 and Kapler had no ejections. There are theories saying that Kapler was getting pressure from the Philadelphia fans and media for not managing with enough fire, because, in 2019, he was ejected four times. This may be true since 2019 has been the only season of his career that he has been ejected. After going 81-81 in the 2019 season and underachieving for the second season in a row, Kapler was fired.
A Fresh Start
San Francisco Giants longtime manager Bruce Bochy retired at the conclusion of the 2019 season. With the managerial role being vacant, San Francisco Giants President of Baseball Operations, Farhan Zaidi, turned to Gabe Kapler. The Giants went 29-31 in the Covid-abbreviated 2020 season and just missed out on the expanded playoffs. Fans did not have high expectations for the 2020 Giants, so Kapler was not blamed for the losing season. In 2021, Kapler and the Giants exceeded all expectations and went 107-55. At every step of the way, people from all around the league refused to believe that the Giants were the real deal.
Why Does His Style Work So Well?
The 2021 Giants had a formula of veterans who were “washed” and former prospects who were “busts.” The players speak very highly of Kapler. Quantifying a manager’s impact is difficult, but it has been said that Kapler’s preparation is top-notch. He managed to get the most out of his older players by giving needed rest days and by creating a fresh, winning atmosphere. The Giants had a league-leading 18 Pinch Hit home runs. Three teams were tied for second place with 10. That goes to show how well Kapler placed his players in the most optimal situation. The Giants’ bullpen was rated one of the best in the league in 2021 and Kapler deserves a lot of credit for that.
Gabe Kapler is not the only guy steering the ship of course. The Giants had the most members on their coaching staff than any other team in the league, so all of the credit can’t go to Kapler. There are several people in the clubhouse and on the field that factor into the equation.
Kapler seems to have a calm-mannered approach that the rest of the coaches feed off of. Some may call it luck or a fluke but almost every key player on the team had one of the best seasons of their career. I don’t believe this was a fluke. The Giants coaching staff should get a large amount of praise, aside from the players of course. The San Francisco environment has been a better fit for Kapler.
Kapler won the National League Manager of the Year in 2021. From being fired and underperforming in Philadelphia, to taking a Giants team with low expectations and winning 107 games, Kapler has made a household name for himself.
Kapler and the Giants have gotten off to a strong start in 2022 by going 9-5 (as of 4/23/22). Time will tell how Kapler’s legacy plays out in San Francisco, but all signs point to him being successful in the future.
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