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MLB The Show

20 Mar 2018

MLB Hot Seat: Which managers start the year with it all to prove?

MLB Hot Seat: Which managers start the year with it all to
prove?

Opening Day is nearly here, but for some teams this will be a make or break season for their managers

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Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles

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 Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians

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Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants

(Photo credit: Keith Allison)

There are six new managers in the Majors this year. The Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Washington Nationals all took the decision to make a change to try and better their ball club, be that dragging themselves off the foot of the division or making the push for a World Series title.

But that doesn't mean that the other 24 managers start the 2018 season in a comfortable nest of safety. There are plenty of precarious skippers for whom a rough start to the year could cause more than a few nerves. So, who starts the year on the hot seat?

Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles

This is a pivotal season for the Orioles. They last won the AL East in 2014 and haven't taken an American League pennant since 1983. Showalter is entering his ninth season with the team, and the final year of his contract.

With the power dynamics within the franchise and between Showalter and general manager Dan Duquette shaky at best, a poor season is almost certainly going to see a head roll at one of the positions, if not both. During last year's awful 9-20 stretch in May and June the tensions rose, and with Manny Machado's contract rapidly expiring as well there is little doubt that things could change rapidly if the Orioles are slow out of the gate.

Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians

Tito has two World Series to his name, and was named American League Manager of the Year in both 2013 and 2016, but that might not save him.

Winning the AL Central is not enough. Three playoff appearances in five years has resulted in one AL pennant and one case of serious heartbreak in the World Series after the team threw away a 3-1 lead over the Cubs in 2016.

The Tribe hasn't won the big one since 1948, and changing that is priority #1. With a core of players that includes a two-time Cy Young winner in Corey Kluber, one of the best bullpens in the game, and one of the most talented SS-3B combos in the Majors, the Indians are deep in win-now mode, and there is no room for error there, even for a manager like Francona. It is time to win it all or leave.

Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants

It's an even year, so the Giants are going to win the World Series! Well, 2016 put pay to that run, and since 2014 San Francisco have been steadily sliding to the foot of the NL West.

64 wins last year was a huge drop from 2016, and while some of that can be put on Madison Bumgarner missing half the year, there were a lot of holes in the Giants lineup and more than a little lack of motivation.

With Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen now on board to provide more offense, with Bumgarner's shoulder healthy, and with Buster Posey and Hunter Pence providing the spine of the team, the expectation is that the Giants can return to their competitive ways. But the NL West has changed. The Dodgers remain in command of the division but both the Rockies and Diamondbacks are dangerous teams that made the wildcard game last year, with Arizona even registering one more win than the Cubs.

San Francisco have a tough road in 2018, and if they don't at least put up a fight then Bochy could well find himself at risk.