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15-year Marliniversary: Girardi named NL Manager of the Year

The new skipper made the most of an inexperienced roster.

Florida Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Throughout the club’s history, the Florida/Miami Marlins have had three skippers earn the distinction of National League Manager of the Year.

Of those three, only one failed to take the Marlins to the postseason. He earned that honor on this day 15 years ago.

Joe Girardi spent just one season as manager of the Florida Marlins, but on Nov. 15, 2006, his efforts earned him the title of National League Manager of the Year. The Marlins were in a rebuild in 2006, but during the month of September, were alive and well in the playoff race.

Entering the 2006 season, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis were promising young stars for the Marlins, but the rest were largely unknown. The Opening Day lineup featured six rookies and only Josh Willingham, Mike Jacobs and Miguel Olivo were older than 25.

With an inexperienced roster, things went as expected for the Marlins early on. Florida began the year 11-31, but went on a furious rally beginning in late-May.

Girardi got the most out of his young roster as the Marlins would go on to become the first team in Major League Baseball history to get back to .500 after falling at least 20 games under. For five days in September, the Marlins actually had a winning record.

Florida would go just 5-13 over the final 18 games to finish 78-84, but Girardi’s team had exceeded all expectations. Cabrera and second baseman Dan Uggla were each named All-Stars while shortstop Hanley Ramirez took home the National League Rookie of the Year honor.

The future seemed bright for Girardi and the young Marlins, but his tenure in South Florida would last just one season. Despite winning 78 games with a payroll of just $15 million, turmoil between Girardi and Florida executives, including owner Jeffrey Loria led to Girardi’s departure. Loria and Girardi were in a verbal argument during a game in August.

Girardi would be replaced by Fredi Gonzalez, who would go a respectable 276-279 in more than three seasons with the club.

Since then, Girardi has spent 12 years as a big-league manager, including 10 with the New York Yankees. Girardi was part of three championship teams as a player in the Bronx and managed the Yankees to their most recent title in 2009. He’s been the skipper of the Philadelphia Phillies since 2020.

Jack McKeon (2003) and Don Mattingly (2020) have also earned the distinction of National League Manager of the Year with the Marlins. Girardi became the second to do so on this day 15 years ago.