The World Series champion might not come out of the American League Central this season, but no one will beat the division for managerial star power.
The Tigers needed a manager after Ron Gardenhire stepped away toward the end of last season for health reasons. Detroit didn't look for the latest young, analytical hipster to lead the team — the Tigers instead reeled in former World Series winner A.J. Hinch as his replacement.
But the White Sox took things a step further, reaching back to the 1970s to bring back managerial legend Tony La Russa to replace Rick Renteria.
La Russa is 76 years old.
Suddenly, the Q-Rating among AL Central managers has taken off like a rocket.
Fans go to games to watch players and not managers — even more so now that instant replay has reduced arguments and kicking dirt on umpires. And it's those players who make managers look good.
But AL Central managers have a whopping 5,574 career wins between them — by far the most of any division. Their 12 World Series appearances are the most as well. And now they have the oldest active manager in La Russa, who takes that spot away from Houston's Dusty Baker, who is 71.
So here's the rundown of AL Central royalty:
•Chicago's La Russa has 2,728 wins, 2,365 losses and three World Series titles, with Oakland and St. Louis.
•Cleveland's Terry Francona has 1,702 wins, 1,434 losses and two World Series titles with Boston.
•Kansas City's Mike Matheny has 617 wins, 508 losses and one World Series appearance with St. Louis.
•Detroit's Hinch has 570 wins, 452 losses and one World Series title with the Astros.
The Twins' Rocco Baldelli has 137 wins, 85 losses and twice has been named the most handsome manager in baseball.
This isn't to poke fun at Baldelli, who's entering his third season as a skipper and has led the Twins to division titles in each of his first two seasons. He's as accomplished as a young manager can be without winning a ring, and the Twins are expected to be in the battle for a third consecutive division title.
But even he remarked how the Central is bursting with managerial acumen.
"I have a lot to still learn, and I think I have a lot of games watching some pretty incredible managers on the other end of the field and I like to learn," Baldelli said. "I'll keep an eye on everything going on out there as we always do. All of these teams in our division are led by very talented people, and I can certainly acknowledge that. It's actually fun for me. I like watching other people work and do their thing."
Baldelli represents all the new-school thinking about today's game: Have a strong relationship with the research-and-development department. Use the entire roster. Work smartly as well as hard. And he's liable to greet one of his players after a home run with a pat on the back while handing them a pillow.
The White Sox will be fascinating to watch because La Russa has been handed an impressive roster with a mix of emerging and established talent. Can Old School Tony mesh with today's player? He has a law degree and is bilingual. The guess here is that he will figure it out.
Francona missed most of last season because of health problems but Cleveland still went 35-25. He returns to a team hoping to score more runs to support a pitching staff anchored by reigning Cy Young winner Shane Bieber.
Matheny took the Cardinals to the World Series in 2013 and hopes to build a contender with the Royals. Brady Singer is their next big hope on the mound, but they have some arms moving through the farm system and shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. might make an impact this season.
Hinch's 2017 World Series title was tainted by Trashcangate, which led to him being suspended for a year. He will work on his reputation with a Tigers team that has some promising young arms while watching Miguel Cabrera close in on 3,000 career hits.
If Baldelli truly likes to study his opposing managers, he has picked the right division.