Every tiger fan has a soft spot for Jim Leyland. He is after all partially responsible for delivering the tigers from futility. In 2006 he inherited a team that had just lost 500 games in their previous 5 seasons including an abysmal 119 losses in 2003. In his first season he changed the clubhouse from a group of players who had no idea how to win into a team that worked hard for 9 innings and didn’t know how to lose. Or rather, they didn’t know how to lose in the first half.
In five seasons with the Tigers Jim Leyland has amassed an impressive winning percentage in the first half. With a record of 254 and 187 and a winning percentage of .576 he has not failed to have a .500 record in the first half with the tigers.Fans were certainly happy with Leyland when he led the Tigers to the World Series his first year on the job. This also included an impressive upset over the heavily favored New York Yankees. He led the tigers to 95 wins and within 3 victories of their first World Series since 1984.
Their performance in the World Series mirrored their play down the stretch of 2006 and down the stretch of every season under Jim Leyland. As good as Leyland’s Tigers have been in the first half, they have failed to win more than they have lost in the second half and only in 2009 were they a .500 team in the second half. I would not give that 2009 team too much credit, they were only 38-38 and they went 1-4 in October, including a loss in game 163 that would have gotten them into the playoffs. Not to mention if they won one game before that they would not have even had to play game 163.
That is why I propose the Tigers do something drastic. They fire Jim Leyland, not before the season starts, but after the all star game. Odds are they will be about 10 to 15 games above .500 and in first place. Not really the ideal time to fire the manager, but a new manager may be able to squeeze a better record down the stretch than Leyland has been capable of.
There are no exaggerations when saying Leyland cannot get his team to perform in the second half. Their record is 170 and 200 in the second half, good for a .459 winning percentage. Not a winning percentage of a team that has any chance of making the playoffs. The Tigers have been consistent under Leyland in regard to their splits. Over 5 years and nothing has changed, why should it this season?
No one has any problem with Leyland’s first half winning percentage. A .576% win percentage over a whole season is good enough to win the division most seasons. If Leyland is replaced after the all star break, then the replacement just needs to avoid a .459 winning percentage and the tigers have improved. They really have nothing to lose considering Leyland has not got them into the playoffs since 2006, but why squander the good first half Leyland has consistently given them?