Sep 21, 2012, 3:00 PM EDT
BY CHASE HUGHES
When the 2012 season began, Davey Johnson was tasked with taking a team that had won 80 games the previous year to the next level, to make them a playoffs participant. He had to take a ballclub overflowing with talent and help them realize their potential as a contender in the National League. But at 69, the league’s oldest manager, it was a road he had traveled many times before.
Johnson took over as manager of the Mets before the 1984 season and saw them improve by 22 wins. In 1996, he helped the Orioles climb by 17 victories and make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. And now, after Washington’s 4-1 win over the Dodgers last night, Johnson has another team in the playoffs with 11 more victories than it won the previous year.
At 91 wins and counting, Johnson has played a central role in yet another dramatic turnaround. This is the fourth franchise he has led to the playoffs — he also managed the Reds to the NL Central crown in 1995 — something only he and Billy Martin have done. Johnson’s “been-there” presence and experience is something not lost among his players.
“There’s a lot of people around here that you can point fingers at that had a lot to do with the change in direction and everything that goes into that in the ballclub and the organization, but none any bigger than Davey,” right fielder Jayson Werth said. “When I got here last year, this place was a mess. It was upside-down. We had a lot of work to do. At times it felt like we would never get to play in October.
“Then Davey took over in the middle of the season and kind of did things his own way, went about business the way Davey goes about business and he was the guy that he is. You could start to sense and see that the shape was starting to turn around.”
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