Jim Souhan
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You wish Rocco Baldelli would let Chris Archer pitch more than five innings.

You wish he wouldn't rest Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa on the same day.

You wish he'd let Jhoan Duran pitch the eighth and ninth inning of every close game.

You may be right.

You may be missing the big picture.

In 3 ⅓ seasons as the Twins' manager, Baldelli is, statistically, the best manager of the franchise's past 90 years.

When the Twins hired Baldelli before the 2019 season, he inherited a team that finished 78-84 in 2018, a team that hadn't won more than 85 games in a season since 2010.

The Twins won 101 games, their most since 1965, in 2019.

They put together another impressive regular season in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. By winning 60% of their games that year, they won 60% of their games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1932 and 1933, when they were the Washington Senators.

In 2021, the Twins won only 73 games, becoming one of the most disappointing teams of the year, largely because of injuries and the early-season failures of the bullpen and veteran closer Alex Colome.

In 2022, they entered the season perceived as a long shot lacking pitching. They enter the weekend at 37-28 and in first place in the American League Central.

Baldelli has won 55% of the games he has managed. That is the best winning percentage for a Twins manager who has lasted more than one season in the job since 1932, when Walter Johnson was finishing a four-year managing stint in which he won 57% of his games.

Billy Martin had a winning percentage of .599 in 1969, but was fired after one season.

Tom Kelly managed the Twins' only two World Series championships, in 1987 and 1991. He has earned his place as the most revered manager in franchise history. His record suffered because the Twins' farm system stopped producing star-caliber players in the early '90s, and the franchise didn't try to compete in the last few years of that decade.

Ron Gardenhire oversaw a nine-year run of success, from 2002 to 2010, but, like Kelly, had his record damaged by a downturn in talent and a rebuild.

Paul Molitor, Baldelli's predecessor, helped the Twins return to competitiveness after their collapse early last decade, but became a lame duck when Derek Falvey arrived as the team's new, analytics-driven general manager.

Comparing baseball managers is tricky, especially in the modern era. A good manager can't succeed with a bad roster, a bad manager may be able to win with a good roster, and every manager is relentlessly second-guessed in his own market.

Remember that Kelly, one of the best strategists in the game over the last 50 years, did a radio show on WCCO that featured Bill from Coon Rapids and Marge from Mendota Heights asking how he could be so stupid to not have Kirby Puckett bunt more.

Joe Torre, when winning four World Series in five seasons with the Yankees, was criticized for overusing his key relievers. And that criticism was valid.

Context is everything when evaluating managers, and context makes Baldelli's record even more impressive.

To become recognized as a great manager by the masses, Baldelli will have to win in the postseason. But baseball is at its core a regular-season sport that decides its champion via small-sample, highly random playoff results.

The 1987 St. Louis Cardinals were a better team, objectively and statistically, than the 1987 Twins. The Twins beat them in a seven-game series, winning all four of their games at the Metrodome.

Baldelli has already established himself as someone who can win with a variety of players and despite a variety of injuries and illnesses. He handles his role as team spokesman with grace.

Evaluating managers is tricky, but Baldelli has built a resume that speaks for itself, even if you think he should have bunted in the fifth inning on Wednesday.