Alex Cora is a World Series Champion, widely praised for his managerial style and decisions throughout the playoffs, it’s been a long road to get there for the young manager, with more than a few heartbreaks along the way.
Many Miami fans’ first encounter with Alex Cora came when he first appeared on the Miami Hurricanes baseball team in 1993. Cora would have one of the greatest careers in UM Baseball History, making the College World Series All-Tournament team in 1995 and 1996. He was a cornerstone of a team that navigated it’s way within three outs of a College World Series title in 1996 before a heartbreaking walk-off home run ended his hopes for collegiate glory.
(Credit: UM Sports Hall of Fame)
Cora, considered one of the best defensive players in college baseball, was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third round of the 1996 MLB Draft. He would go on to have a 13 year MLB career, with the Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox, Mets, Rangers, and Nationals. In his time with the Dodgers, from his MLB Debut in 1998 till 2004, Cora was the LA side’s primary second baseman, with a .246 batting average with the team.
Widely regarded as a solid second baseman after his stint in L.A, Cora signed with the Cleveland Indians in 2005. He spent just half a season in Ohio, before he was traded to the Boston Red Sox just before the trade deadline in 2005. Cora primarily served as the team’s backup, and played in 83 games in Boston’s 2007 World Series campaign.
In 2009, Cora signed with the New York Mets, and served as their backup second baseman until he was released in August of 2010. Cora would briefly play for the Rangers on a minor league contract before playing for the Washington Nationals in 2011, in what would become his final season on the diamond as a player.
Alex Cora would finish with a career .243 batting average, 35 homeruns, and 286 RBIs. Though not always a statistical monster, he was often regarded as one of the smartest, most hardworking players in baseball, which would lead to his eventual decision to become a coach.
Alex Cora’s coaching career would begin in 2016. When the Houston Astros named him their bench coach for the 2017 season. Cora quickly became an integral part of a team that would go on to win 101 games and the World Series Championship. Naturally, the young bench coach began to turn heads in the coaching circles of the MLB, and when the Red Sox managerial position opened up in the fall of 2017, Cora seemed a natural fit.
Cora was formally announced as the manager of the Red Sox just after the Astros won the 2017 ALCS on their way to the World Series. He was widely regarded as a good hire, and he rose to a managerial position remarkably quickly.
By 2018, the Red Sox had one of the best rosters in the MLB, but faced the difficulties of playing in one of the best divisions in baseball, the American League East. The young manager would have to manage his very young team past the New York Yankees, led by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and an upstart Tampa Bay Rays team that won 90 games seemingly out of nowhere. Cora turned heads yet again, winning a franchise record and MLB leading 108 games and clinching a division title by a comfortable eight game margin.
The playoffs would present a challenge for Cora. In the ALDS the Red Sox faced the same Yankees that they had battled with all season, but handled them easily, with Cora at the helm the Red Sox won the series in four games, including an astounding 16-1 victory in Game 3 of the series.
In the American League Championship series Alex Cora would have to face his old team, the Houston Astros. As he faced off against the Astros, baseball fans were reminded of the great character of Alex Cora yet again; in September of that year, former LSU and current Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman and Cora made a bet on the Miami-LSU football game, and after Miami lost Cora made good on his end of the bargain, wearing a Warren Morris LSU jersey during batting practice in Boston. This small event goes to show just how beloved and respected Cora is by both his current and former players.
After the Red Sox defeated the Astros in five games, they went on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Cora would push all the right buttons to lead the Red Sox to a World Series Championship in just five games. One example came in Game 1 of the series, when Cora had Eduardo Nunez pinch-hit against Alex Wood. Nunez would hit a crucial three-run homerun that would lead to the Red Sox getting off to a 1-0 series lead. After the Red Sox won the series, it was revealed on FOX by Eduardo Nunez that Alex Cora had texted him the night before and mentioned that Alex Wood liked pitching a slider to the inside part of the plate against righthanded hitters. Nunez said that the scouting reports and helpful notes that Cora sent to players all season was what led to the team’s success. It served as yet another example of Alex Cora’s immense baseball IQ and the respect players and opposing managers have for him.
Having won a World Series in his first year managing an MLB team, Cora has one of the brightest futures in baseball. Through hard work and dedication he has built a reputation that led him to baseball’s furthest heights. Considering the opinion of Cora throughout the baseball world, there is truly no limit to just how far the former Miami second baseman can go.