I’m a Minnesota Twins fan and they’re having a terrific 2019 season after a long stretch of not-so-terrific results. The on-field improvements have arrived a few seasons after myriad off-field changes to their entire operation.
A Baseball Prospectus story about that transition highlighted what I believe is a better way to view leadership. It’s less about an individual and more about the group.
I talked recently to a member of the Twins front office about the concept of clubhouse leadership and they opened my eyes to a different way of viewing the entire concept, particularly as it relates to stories like those of Odorizzi and Pérez. Because so much of what actually happens in a clubhouse is seen only by players, coaches, and other team staff, fans are often fed a version of “clubhouse leadership” that stems largely from how players behave in public and/or around the media. But is that really what matters most?
Having a generally sunny disposition is never a bad thing and goes a long way in that regard, and a willingness to provide thoughtful quotes to beat reporters or television cameras can positively shape a player’s image even further. Those things have value, certainly, but some well-liked players offer zero tangible help to teammates behind the scenes and some media-phobic grumps go out of their way to share knowledge when no one is recording what they say.
Some players combine those traits, and the Twins have tried to collect as many of them in one clubhouse as possible. That’s not necessarily unique, but it’s a new twist on the old leadership cliches, at least. If someone has knowledge that can help win games, the Twins want it and they want it shared throughout every level of the organization. Anyone or anything stopping that flow — be it a manager, a coach, a player, or even a lack of technology and data resources — is now a candidate for swift change.
“If someone has knowledge that can help win games, the Twins want it and they want it shared throughout every level of the organization.”