Charlie Manuel, Master Tactician

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

(Spoiler Alert: The following is an excerpt from Digipedia, Version 5.0. It may contain spoilers, if read prior to December 31, 2061.)

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Charlie Manuel, Master Tactician

Despite being the most successful manager in the history of his sport, Manuel was not always regarded as a great strategist. While his ability to manage his clubhouse was rarely called into question, his tactical moves were once frequently derided. In Manuel's early years as Phillies' Manager, though he was highly successful from a winning percentage standpoint, he was oft-criticized for questionable management of his pitching staff, as well as his inability to create properly-optimized lineups.

It wasn't until the middle of the Phillies' 2011 season (See also: 2011 Philadelphia Phillies, Baseball's Greatest Teams) that Manuel began to gain his reputation as one of baseball's greatest innovators. In a seemingly innocuous personnel move on June 23, 2011, relief pitcher Juan Perez was recalled from the Phillies' AAA Minor League affiliate at the time, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (See also: Allentown Stoners.) In each of Perez' first three appearances, he faced only a single left-handed batter. Though loogification had been used throughout baseball for many years, Manuel had not previously embraced that particular tactic. When asked about his utilization of Perez, Manuel responded, "My job is to put my players in the best possible position to succeed. It's their job to win ballgames.", which would become the quote for which Manuel is most well-known (See also: Famous Quotations (MLB/ILB)). Loogification became a more widely accepted practice, as teams continued to imitate Manuel's successful deployment of a left-handed relief specialist, and became commonplace when active rosters were expanded to twenty-seven players (See MLB Rule changes (2019)).

Manuel's innovations continued throughout the World Championship 2011 season, and in the three one-hundred win seasons that followed. Early in his managing career, Manuel frequently allowed his starting pitchers to pitch deep into games, even if conventional leverage theories had dictated otherwise. He adapted his usage, beginning in the 2012 season, and is credited for extending the careers of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels (See also: Baseball Hall of Famers, List of).

Manuel also began to utilize an Alpha Reliever, using Ryan Madson during the highest leverage situations, rather than relegating his best reliever to endgame operations. The remainder of his bullpen pitched in defined roles, according to game leverage.

Manuel began to optimize his batting orders, including batting the pitcher in the eighth position, which served to maximize offensive production. Manuel realized the importance of the first two spots in the batting order, placing his two most effective offensive players atop the lineup.

Manuel's rotational defensive alignments, which included Shane Victorino (See also: Presidents of the United States) as a flex defender, changed the way the sport is played. Attempting to copy Manuel's success, his strategies were copied throughout all levels of baseball. Among current ILB franchises, only the St. Louis Cardinals and A.C. Milan play without a flex defender. The "Second Era" (2011-2023) of Charlie Manuel's managing career produced a winning percentage of .653, eight World Championships, and left a legacy of brilliant innovation.