Brandon Hyde was hired as manager of the Baltimore Orioles on December 14, 2018. To say his first big league gig was going to be fun would seem to be the last word to enter the conversation.
Hyde was encountering a team that recently won 47 games over an entire season, stripped itself of high-priced players and announced a rebuild with no given time frame, as it would start from the very bottom.
Over the course of the next three seasons, there would be a combined winning percentage of .357, which included 108 and 110-loss seasons.
Needless to say, 2022 wasn’t supposed to be much better, and to be honest, the season started off worse than even expected.
To start the season, the top prospect in baseball, Adley Rutschman, would strain a ligament in spring training and not make his debut until May 21.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, top ace, John Means, would go down with an elbow strain that turned to needing Tommy John Surgery. So, with their ace and top prospect shut down and the first month that saw 14 losses with an offense averaging 2.95 runs per game, the Orioles’ season looked doomed.
May came along, and things began to turn around. The pitching began to flourish with a bullpen that was starting to emerge as one of the best in baseball.
Aided by the the arrival of Adley Rutschman and a starting staff that would find hidden gems in Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish and Spenser Watkins, the Orioles started to find a competitive balance.
Hyde never wavered, though, when things got tough. His “take one game at a time” mentality caught on to a team that was making stars of unknowns and outcasts.
Hyde gave a utility player and former top prospect for the A’s and Yankees, Jorge Mateo, the chance to man shortstop on a daily basis. In return, he found a Gold-Glove-caliber speed demon who could change a game with all facets.
He helped turn an average fielder in Ramón Urías into a Gold Glove third baseman while giving him everyday reps.
Hyde has taken young and talented players and has gotten the best out of them while making the Orioles one of the most exciting teams in baseball with his leadership.
The Orioles would go on to win 83 games in 2022, a 31-game improvement from the previous season. Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projected the Orioles to win 61 games at best.
The Orioles became the first team since the 1899 St. Louis Perfectos to win 80+ games after losing 110 games the season prior. We’re talking history here, people.
Hyde would have been the first manager in the AL to win a Manager of the Year Award with a team that finished below third in their respective division. He would have been only the second manager to ever do it, joining Joe Girardi, who did it in 2006 with the Florida Marlins.
Hyde finished second, sandwiched between winner Terry Francona of the Cleveland Guardians and third place holder Scott Servais of the Seattle Mariners for the prestigious honor.
With top ace John Means set to return next season, and with full years from Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Kyle Stowers, the Baltimore Orioles are primed to make noise in a crowded AL East.
Brandon Hyde has taught this group of players and Baby Birds to come how to play the game with passion, excitement, fun and, most of all, heart.
It’s easy to see why Brandon Hyde was a finalist for this year’s AL Manager of the Year. The expectations will only grow, but Hyde, as always, will tackle them with his bulldog persona.
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