“Everything is sad and I hate baseball”.
That was my instant reaction when the Giants announced Gabe Kapler would be the next manager of the club. Flash forward nearly two years to the day, and he was the near-unanimous National League Manager of the Year.
The manager of our 107-win San Francisco Giants received 28 of 30 first-place votes. Kapler became the first manager since Dusty Baker to take home the award in a Giants uniform. Even the legend who presented the award to him, Bruce Bochy, didn’t win the prestigious honor in his career. I think he’ll settle for the three world titles instead.
What Gabe Kapler did with this team was impressive. It’s a height that a lot of people, including myself, thought Kap would never reach. Being on the same page with Farhan and Harris in the front office has allowed Kap to have some breathing room to learn and grow as a manager. And for the first time, we got to see that growth in a full 162 game season.
His bullpen management, the main criticism and probably his biggest weakness, took great leaps forward in 2021. He had a formula and stuck to it for the most part. And while there were times he probably leaned on someone after a rough outing a little too much, I can only see his feel for the bullpen improving. Especially with Rogers, Mcgee, and now Doval ready for the late innings.
The Rotating Roster
The handling of the constant rotation of depth players the front office brought in and took out was second to none. It was rare to see the same lineup on back-to-back days. And you don’t just luck into a record-breaking 18 Pinch Hit homers. He played matchups well and was aggressive in knowing when it was time to make a move. You could see his confidence grow as the season went on and the Giants kept winning. He knew what his plan was going to be for every situation and rarely made a move that had people scratching their heads.
By all accounts, the clubhouse seems to love him. Players gush about how great and helpful he and his assistant coaches are to the strategy and development over the season. And if nothing else, this season was worth it purely for the steak cake the players got Kap for his birthday.
A Manager for the City
More than anything though, I realize just what a perfect fit he is for San Francisco. Between the look, the clothes, and all the pictures of SF he loves posting on his Instagram. He appears to have loved and embraced all the sights, traditions, cultures, and most important the values that make this city as great as it is. And I think now, as the team and he grow and form their own identity together, we are starting to replicate and give back some of that love.
Now only two years later, everything is great and I love baseball.
Photo: @SFGiants on Twitter