The Rangers have a new manager. Chris Woodward, fresh off the World Series, where he was the third base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A former big leaguer, Woodward was an infielder for twelve seasons, mostly with Toronto. Let’s just say he didn’t make a big-league club on his hitting.
But more than waving his arm furiously at third base, Woodward’s true gift is in teaching defense to infielders. He is credited with some major strides in defense many Dodgers have made under his tutelage, including shortstop Corey Seager.
The forty-two-year-old native of California’s only previous managerial experience came in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, at the helm of the New Zealand squad.
Like his predecessor, he takes over a team that finished dead last in the American League West, also coming off a 95-loss season. The next year they won the division. The division is much tougher now than it was then. Houston is not going to take getting bounced in the playoffs lightly. But we can all hope lightning strikes twice.
Woodward has his work cut out for him, though. The Rangers are at rock bottom, finishing in last or next to last in most categories of offense, defense and pitching.
But he brings a pedigree of winning with him from Los Angeles based not just on analytics, but knowing how to apply them.
According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, Woodward says that you are a “fool if you don’t understand the importance of analytics.” But he adds it’s all about communicating it to the players. If the players don’t buy into it, the smartest thinking in the world doesn’t matter.
The first-time manager joins the growing trend toward young, inexperienced managers who are fresh off their playing careers and presumably can communicate well with players.
Welcome to the Rangers, Chris Woodward. We wish you all the success in the world. And by world, we mean World Series.