To call Joe Maddon's managerial style a little unorthodox would be an understatement. The Tampa Bay Rays skipper has become well known for his continual tinkering with the line-up, defensive shifts and he's even gone so far as to call for an intentional walk with the bases loaded.
Sometimes, the moves that Maddon makes can frustrate fans so much they want to tear their hair out. However, he's a firm believer in using statistical data to attempt to put the Rays in the best position to win and you can't argue with the results. Since 2008 the Rays have gone 394-298 while playing in the American League East (generally considered the toughest division in baseball). He's led the Rays to three playoff appearances, two AL East titles and the 2008 AL championship.
Joe Maddon once again showed his unorthodox approach to managing on May 22. The "old school" way to handle a slumping hitter is to move him further and further down the lineup. However, the Joe Maddon approach to "slump busting" is the exact opposite.
Carlos Pena has been mired in a terrible slump for the entire month of May. His batting average for May has been well below .200. Overall, his average slipped down to .209 before the game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
In an attempt to get Pena out of his funk, Maddon moved him to the leadoff spot in the Rays lineup for the game Tuesday night. The move sure paid off. Pena went 2-5 with a monstrous home run to dead center field and collected three RBIs.
This isn't the first time Joe Maddon has employed this particular version of "slump busting". When Evan Longoria went through a mid-season slump in 2011, Maddon moved him to the leadoff spot for three games. In those games Longoria responded by going 5-1 with a double, home run and three runs scored.
The Tampa Bay Rays are fortunate to have a manager who isn't afraid to think outside of the box. Given the limited financial resources the Rays have, they'll never be able to spend their way into contention like the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox can. The Rays have to develop young talent and maximize the potential of that talent to remain competitive.
As Joe Maddon has shown time and time again, he's the best man to lead the Tampa Bay Rays.
Sean McDonnell has been a resident of the Tampa Bay area for the past 21 years. He is an avid fan of the Tampa Bay Rays; Tampa Bay Bucs and USF Bulls.
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