By: Will Burchfield
With the Tigers pushing toward the playoffs in the face of injuries and underperformances, manager Brad Ausmus continues to garner praise.
Last month, national baseball writer Peter Gammons suggested Ausmus should be considered for the A.L. Manager of the Year Award.
This morning, Tigers TV analyst Kirk Gibson voiced more support for the team’s skipper.
“Brad’s done a great job this year,” Gibson told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket, also commending the Orioles’ Buck Showalter and the Yankees’ Joe Girardi. “The team is still behind him, he never lost the clubhouse.”
The Tigers have had a roller-coaster season. They’ve been hot and they’ve been cold, their playoff hopes swinging between hopeful and bleak. Through it all, Ausmus has maintained an even keel. Gibson, who won the N.L. Manager of the Year Award with the Diamondbacks in 2011, feels that’s a characteristic attribute of a good skipper.
“I just think you stay consistent, you stay steady,” he said. “You understand the mistakes you make, you correct your mistakes, you try not to make the same mistakes, you learn. You’re gaining information from many different places and you make the right decisions. But most of all, you’re steady for your club, you keep your club going, you keep them believing.”
One thing working in Ausmus’ favor as a manager is that he played for 18 years in the majors. He appreciates the grind of an MLB season and the many challenges it presents. In turn, he seems to have a keen feel for the pulse of his team.
“Brad’s well-prepared. He knows what guys’ capabilities are, who’s healthy, who isn’t healthy, what they’re mindset is. You have a lot to go on by numbers, no question about it, but sometimes you go against the numbers and I think overall Brad’s done a pretty good job this year of keeping everybody together,” Gibson said.
It’s commonly acknowledged that Ausmus will be judged based on whether or not the Tigers make the playoffs. They are currently two games out of the second wild card and seven games behind the Indians in the A.L. Central.
“If we win and go get in the playoffs, everybody will say that he’s done a heck of a job,” Gibson said. “And if we don’t, it’s a results-oriented business and he understands that.”
But for all the attention paid to the manager, Gibson thinks the fans should look somewhere else.
“Again, I don’t think Brad is the problem,” he said. “The players are the guys that gotta get it done. He’s put them in a good position to do the job.”
When the 2015 Tigers finished last in their division, Ausmus came under fire within the media and the fan base. But Gibson never wavered in his support for the young manager.
“I think, again, I’ve been Brad’s biggest supporter. Last year when some people were saying he should be fired, I was on board with him. I let that be known to whoever I could within the Tigers organization.
“I think he’s done a good job this year, as well. When you’re a young manager – this is his third year – I think he’s gotten better every single year. I think he’ll continue to get better,” Gibson said.
Despite the microscope placed on the Tigers’ day-to-day performance these days, Gibson took a big-picture view of their season.
“The reality of it is I look at it as this team, I look at what’s going on in the clubhouse, I look at how consistently they keep going,” he said. “When they get down do they come back, are they fundamentally sound? I think the Tigers have played pretty good baseball, all in all, with the roster that they have.”
Whether or not that gets them into the playoffs – and validates Ausmus – remains to be seen.