Giants: A look back at Gabe Kapler’s playing career
There is little correlation between being a good MLB player and being a good MLB manager. Still, it’s worth taking a look back on the playing career of new San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler.
Bruce Bochy is a future Hall of Fame manager who won 2,003 games over the course of his 25-year managerial career, which included 13 seasons and three World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants.
Bochy was also a .239 career hitter who managed just 2.3 WAR in a forgettable nine-year MLB career.
In other words, a guy doesn’t have to have an illustrious career as a player to become a successful manager.
That brings us to new San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler.
A 57th-round pick by the Detroit Tigers in 1995 out of Moorpark College in California, Kapler faced an uphill battle to even reach the big leagues.
However, he put himself on the prospect map in his first full professional season, hitting .300/.378/.534 with 45 doubles, 26 home runs, 99 RBI and 14 steals in a full season at the Single-A level.
He followed that up with a strong season at High-A in 1997 (.865 OPS, 40 2B, 19 HR, 87 RBI) and a monster season at Double-A in 1998 (.976 OPS, 47 2B, 28 HR, 146 RBI), to emerge as one of baseball’s top prospects.
At the onset of the 1999 season, he was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Detroit Tigers system and the No. 34 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America.
He made his MLB debut down the stretch in 1998 and served as the primary center fielder on the MLB squad in 1999, hitting .245/.315/.447 for a 93 OPS+ with 22 doubles and 18 home runs in a 1.8 WAR rookie season.
That November, he was traded as part of a six-player package to acquire slugger Juan Gonzalez from the Detroit Tigers.
He hit .302/.360/.473 with 32 doubles and 14 home runs in 2000 and .267/.348/.437 with 29 doubles, 17 home runs and 23 steals in 2001, serving as the Rangers’ starting center fielder both seasons.
Unfortunately, that proved to be his peak.
After a slow start to the 2002 season, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies at the deadline with Jason Romano in exchange for Todd Hollandsworth and Dennys Reyes.
From there he was traded again the following season to the Boston Red Sox where he settled into a fourth outfielder role and won a World Series ring in 2004.
He played with the Red Sox through the 2006 season, with a brief stint with the Yomiuri Giants in 2005.
He briefly retired in 2007 and served as manager of the Red Sox Single-A affiliate, before returning to play one season with the Milwaukee Brewers and two with the Tampa Bay Rays.
His ended after the 2010 season at the age of 34, and he moved into a front office role with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014.
All told, he finished his MLB career with a .268/.329/.420 line over 3,315 plate appearances, good for a 92 OPS+ with 82 home runs and 77 steals, en route to a respectable 8.7 WAR.
He was never a star, but Kapler had a decent MLB career and he contributed to a World Series winner in Boston. Now he’ll need to prove his managerial mettle after a disappointing two-year run with the Philadelphia Phillies.