2000: Jerry Manuel, American League Manager of the Year
Jerry Manuel ended the 20th century facing his third season as manager of the Chicago White Sox. Coming off consecutive losing seasons, there wasn’t much reason to think 2000 would be different … but it was.
Over the course of the season, Keith Foulke emerged as the closer and finished with 34 saves, moving Bob Howry into a setup role. Herbert Perry wound up pushing out Greg Norton for the bulk of the playing time at third base and general manager Ron Schueler helped shore up the weak spot behind the plate by renting pending free agent Charles Johnson from the Baltimore Orioles.
Throw in even a marginal improvement from the starting rotation, with its ERA dropping from 5.25 to 4.90 and it was enough to push the White Sox past the Cleveland Indians to a stunning AL Central title.
The party did not last long from there — the wild-card Seattle Mariners swept Chicago out of the ALDS and the White Sox did not return to the postseason under Manuel, who was fired the day after the 2003 season ended. In six seasons, Manuel directed the team to a 500-471 record.