Insane stat shows why we should trust new Cubs manager Craig Counsell

Two Hall of Famers - Earl Weaver and Frank Chance - are the only two skippers to outrank Counsell when it comes to one-run games.

Kyle Schwab-USA TODAY Sports

We all love David Ross, but few could argue the merit in luring longtime Brewers manager Craig Counsell to Chicago this winter with a record-setting five-year, $40 million contract that re-set the market for manager salaries in the game.

His detractors would point to a lack of a championship in Milwaukee or, more generally, a 1-5 record in postseason series as Brewers manager. The team never won a pennant during his tenure, despite him winning more regular season games than any other manager in franchise history.

Part of that, at least in my view, can be explained through some imperfect Brewers rosters over the years. Of course, you could argue that the best managers find a way to win with less-than-perfect rosters, but we can talk ourselves in circles debating that point. But during Friday's Cactus League opener, Marquee showed a statistic that, again, reinforced my trust in Counsell.

New Cubs manager Craig Counsell finds himself among Hall of Fame company with his performance in one-run games

With a minimum of 300 games managed, only two skippers - both Hall of Famers in Earl Weaver and Cubs legend Frank Chance - have a better winning percentage in one-run games. Weaver sets the pace with a .574 mark, Chance follows at .571 and Counsell is trailing close behind at .568.

Counsell has long been lauded as one of the best in-game decision-makers in the sport and that reputation made him highly sought-after prior to joining the Cubs last November. The hope is that is baseball acumen and decade of managerial experience will help the team pick up some additional wins in games they might not have come away with under Ross (for reference, Chicago went 21-24 in one-run games last year).

A very forward-thinking strategist with a good feel for the clubhouse, Counsell has the opportunity to cement his place in Cubs history over the next five years. That all starts here in 2024, where he (at least at things currently stand) will be tasked with getting a lot of production out of young players without the benefit of MVP-caliber play from Cody Bellinger.

If nothing else, though, Counsell's track record speaks for itself - and it should give Cubs fans a lot of faith in the new man calling the shots from the top step of the dugout.