After his first season with the Giants, former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he is proud of his players.
Last fall, the Philadelphia Phillies parted ways with Gabe Kapler after two seasons and replaced him with 2009 World Series-winning manager Joe Girardi. Kapler went on to replace fellow championship-winning skipper Bruce Bochy, of the San Francisco Giants.
As it turns out, neither Girardi nor Kapler helped lift their new team to the postseason in year one, as the National League Central’s St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers wound up snagging the final two National League postseason spots — although Kapler’s Giants did finish with one more win (29) than Girardi’s Phillies (28).
After Sunday’s season finale defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays, Girardi said it was “extremely disappointing” and “frustrating” that the Phillies did not take advantage of their opportunity to clinch their first postseason berth since 2011.
Likewise, after the 5-4 Giants defeat to the San Diego Padres, Kapler shared similar views of his team falling short, but wanted to make sure he gave his players and coaches “a little space to digest and absorb the loss” before talking to them about it.
“We fought really hard,” Kapler told reporters after the game. “We were doing everything we possibly could to win that baseball game and get into the postseason. So, there’s no doubt there’s going to be disappointment.”
“We’ll have to balance big-picture perspective with what we just experienced.”
The Phillies and Giants needed just one more win to advance to the postseason. Girardi’s team lost seven of their last 8 and 9 of their last 13; Kapler’s, meanwhile, dropped four of their last 5 and 7 of their last 11.
Opportunities clearly were not seized, but Kapler is happy with the effort his team produced in each of its 60 games in the shortened season.
“We set out this season to play meaningful games until the end of the season. We did that,” Kapler said. “We played 60 meaningful games. We fought in every single one of them, and we battled back from deficits and took gut punches throughout the season, but continued to fight every single day.”
Kapler went on to praise the Giants bullpen, which got better as the season progressed and even had young players develop this season.
The Phillies bullpen, meanwhile, finished with a 7.06 ERA — the second-highest bullpen ERA since earned runs were tracked in 1912-13, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The highest bullpen ERA? The 1930 Phillies (8.16), 90 years ago.
For the Giants, Kapler said their goal was to go deep in the playoffs and win the World Series. Surely, the Phillies shared a similar mindset.
“We weren’t able to accomplish that goal, but there were a lot of other wins along the way, independent of our win-loss record,” Kapler continued. “We just didn’t play good enough baseball.”
Girardi and Kapler will surely be compared for years to come as long as they remain in their current positions. So far, Kapler appears to have the advantage, given he took a team — that was not expected to go far — to being just one game out of the postseason. The Phillies, meanwhile, finished far short of their “contender” aspirations.
We will see if the script is flipped come the 2021 season.