The Angels didn't go far in their search for a new manager, and they feel they've hired a candidate well-versed in blending old school scouting with new-age analytics and one who is well-prepared to interact and connect with their eclectic nucleus of young and veteran talent.
On Monday, the Halos introduced Brad Ausmus as the 17th skipper in franchise history, inking the 49-year-old to a three-year deal. Ausmus spent the last season as a special assistant to Angels general manager Billy Eppler, and was manager of the Tigers from 2014-17, where he compiled a 314-332 record (.486 winning percentage) over his four seasons, including an American League Central title in his first year. Ausmus also played in the Majors for 18 seasons, with the Padres, Astros, Tigers and Dodgers.
In Monday's introductory press conference, Eppler touted Ausmus for his understanding and utilization of analytics, which have become more prevalent in today's game with each passing year. Ausmus, who assisted mostly on scouting and evaluations last season, said he became more polished in the analytics arena, which was a top trait Eppler and the club were seeking in the hiring process. Eppler had said that the Angels' ideal managerial candidate that would specialize in probability-based decision processes.
"I really learned what is the meat and potatoes of analytics now and the amount of information. It was remarkable to me because I haven't seen it," Ausmus said of his role last season. "I think I'm a pretty quick study on it, but that was the crux of why, when Billy asked me to come over here, I thought it was going to be a really good fit."
"There's no question that experience is an asset," Ausmus said. "I think in every walk of life, experience is an asset. In managing, whether you experience something in the clubhouse or you experience something tactically on the field, rather than have to reconsider it, it becomes a little more reflexive. You can react to it and understand what the end result will be if you don't react quickly or properly."
For the second time, Ausmus is replacing a highly regarded manager. In Detroit, he took over for Jim Leyland and in L.A. he replaces Mike Scioscia, who led the Halos to a 1,650-1,428 (.536) record and the club's only World Series title, in 2002. Scioscia had been the longest active-tenured manager with the same club in MLB before he stepped down after the 2018 season when his 10-year contract expired.
Ausmus was teammates with Scioscia with the Padres in 1993, though Sciosia didn't play that year due to a rotator cuff injury. Ausmus said on Monday that Sciosia sent him a congratulatory text when the Angels made his hiring official on Sunday afternoon.
"I really appreciate what [Scioscia] did. He immediately brought me in as part of the team in Spring Training, even on the field, in uniform, throwing batting practice or hitting some ground balls," Ausmus said. "Replacing him? It's not ever going to be easy to replace someone like Scioscia … [He] was here for 19 years. I don't know that we'll ever see that again. But I'm not here to try and be Mike Scioscia. He was a great, great manager. Maybe he continues to manage. But I'm not here to be Mike Scioscia."
The Angels, who held at least a tie for first place in the AL West as late as May 16 last season, finished in fourth at 80-82 and missed the postseason for the fourth consecutive season.