The Los Angeles Angels, in the midst of a 12-game losing streak that has tarnished their remarkable start to the season, fired Joe Maddon as manager on Tuesday.
Phil Nevin has been named interim manager, the team announced.
The Angels were 10 games above .500 two weeks ago but have since fallen to 27-29. The 12-game skid tied a franchise record for a season, putting the Angels in danger of missing the postseason for the eighth straight year despite an expanded postseason field.
On Monday night, the Angels were shut out 1-0 by Boston Red Sox starter Michael Wacha, dropping them 8½ games behind the Houston Astros for first place in the American League West.
Maddon told The Athletic he was surprised by first-time general manager Perry Minasian’s decision.
“You always rely on people in charge to read the tea leaves properly. This time, they did not,” Maddon said. “You didn’t even have to ask me. You can ask any of the players or coaches. They’re the ones who really know.
“Perry was in a tough spot. I understand that. Let me just put it that way. I would really rely on the sentiments of the coaches and the players.”
Maddon, a three-time Manager of the Year, was in his third season with the organization he previously spent four decades with as a player and a coach. Maddon, 68, was Mike Scioscia’s bench coach on the team that won the 2002 World Series, then went on to a highly successful nine-year run with the low-budget Tampa Bay Rays. In 2016, he led the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series championship in more than 100 years.
The Angels hired Maddon as their manager in October 2019, a move that was highly celebrated throughout the organization. But the Angels finished the 2020 and 2021 seasons below .500 and are suddenly in danger of doing so again in 2022, which represented the final guaranteed year on his contract.
The decision to fire Maddon represents the third major departure overseen by Minasian, who previously released Albert Pujols and Justin Upton. Nevin, 51, spent a dozen years in the major leagues, mostly as a corner infielder, and was hired as the Angels’ third-base coach in the offseason.
The Angels have famously not won a postseason game despite employing the game’s best player, Mike Trout, since 2012, and the pressure to play into October has only ratcheted with the emergence of two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani. Their most recent winning season came in 2015. Since then, the team has been slowed mostly by a lack of quality pitching and inferior depth throughout its 40-man roster. Its six consecutive losing seasons mark the longest streak in the majors.
The Angels began this season 27-17, fueled by a potent offense and encouraging performances by the starting pitchers. But since then they have a minus-43 run differential and an AL-worst 6.31 ERA. No team has ever made the playoffs in a season in which it lost at least 12 consecutive games, but the postseason field has expanded to 12 teams under the new collective bargaining agreement.
“We’ve got guys hurt. The bullpen had a really hard time. And we just stopped hitting,” Maddon told The Athletic. “It’s just one of those things that became contagious. It wasn’t an issue of camaraderie or lack of leadership. It was a calamity that occurred all at one time.”