The last four times the Reds have had a new manager lead them to the postseason, the club has been under the tutelage of a manager from outside of the organization. Obviously this information has been ignored or deemed unimportant by Cincinnati’s front office, since last year’s pitching coach Bryan Price has been given the job for 2014.
The club, in spite of being a pre-season favorite to win the division, finished third place and lost its last seven games. Such underachievement resulted in the firing of manager Dusty Baker.
A similar club was considered as underachieving a half century ago, as the 1969 Reds did not make the playoffs. That club had three rookies of the year (Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tommy Helms), a former MVP (Pete Rose), two batting champions (Rose and Alex Johnson) and two future Hall of Famers (Bench, Tony Perez). Still, the team finished in third place, manager Dave Bristol was fired, and Sparky Anderson was hired. One year later, the Reds reached the World Series.
Twenty years later the organization experienced similar underachievement. A lineup featuring talented outfielders Eric Davis, Paul O’ Neill, Kal Daniels, Ken Griffey, rookie of the year Chis Sabo, and future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, somehow finished next to last in the division. Tommy Helms was replaced that winter by veteran manager Lou Piniella, who one year later led the Reds to sweep Oakland in the World Series.
Within three years, though, Cincinnati found themselves in fifth place and hired veteran Davey Johnson as manager. In 1994 the Reds finished in first and the following year they reached the National League championship.
After finishing ten games under .500 in 1997, another veteran manager was brought in to take the reins. Jack McKeon led the club to 96 wins a year later, losing a one-game playoff to the Mets and Al Leiter.
Nearly a decade later, the fifth place Reds hired former Chicago and San Francisco manager Dusty Baker. Within two years, Baker led the club to the N.L. West championship.
History suggests that when the Reds go outside for a new manager, they usually reach the postseason within two years. When they have hired from within, the results have not been good. Will new manager Bryan Price break the mold, or will he join the likes of Russ Nixon, Vern Rapp, Dave Miley and Jerry Narron? All four of these men were hired from within, and all four finished with losing records while managing the Reds.