The Hall of Fame Progress Of the Active Managers

February 20, 2013

                 In Monday’s article, we laid out a set of standards and procedures by which a manager’s record can be compared to that of those managers who are already in the Hall of Fame.   In yesterday’s article we looked at retired managers, and found that there are three retired managers who are extremely well qualified for the Hall of Fame (Cox, La Russa and Torre), and two more who are marginally qualified (Lou Piniella and Billy Martin.)    Today, we are going to look at active managers.

                I should stress.. …I probably should have stressed before now. . .that I am not evaluating the quality of anyone’s managing.    I’m not really qualified to do that, and I don’t do it.   I’m just evaluating the record, quantifying the amount of success the manager has enjoyed.   I am taking all of the things that mark "success" for a manager—wins, winning percentage, championships and seasons exceeding reasonable expectations—and putting those all into one pile.   That’s all I am trying to do. 


                Of the 30 major league managers, I would say that there are 13 who would seem to have some credibility as Hall of Fame candidates, although there is only one who I think is a fully qualified Hall of Famer at this point.   That one is Davey Johnson.

                Davey Johnson’s career as a manager has known very little other than success.   In seven seasons with the Mets he won a World Series, and never finished lower than second.   His Mets teams exceeded expectations based on their previous records by 17 games in 1984, 16 games in 1985, 18 games in 1986, and 10 games in 1988.  

With the Cincinnati Reds, Johnson had the best record in the division two times in three seasons.   His teams there exceeded expectations by 10 games in 1994, and 11 in 1995.

                Moving to Baltimore, Johnson finished second and first, winning 98 games in 1997.   His teams there exceeded expectations by six games in 1996, and 14 games in 1997.  

                With the Dodgers, Johnson did have one bad year, in 1999, but then exceeded expectations by six games in 2000. 

                With the Nationals in 2012, his team exceeded expectations by 20 games, winning 98 games—by far their best-ever season.

                Johnson has had winning percentages of .588 with the Mets, .543 with the Reds, .574 with the Orioles, .503 with the Dodgers, and .563 with the Nationals.   Despite the ten-year exile, 2000 to 2011, Johnson does have a Cooperstown-worthy record.


                He’s the only active manager who does, but there are three other guys who are very close to that level, and then behind them there are other strong candidates.  Dusty Baker has, in my opinion, 94% of a Hall of Fame resume.

In plain English, Dusty Baker may well be as much of an idiot as many of you claim that he is.   I don’t really care; it’s not my problem.   Good manager or bad, he has enjoyed a significant amount of success over a long period of time.   He won 90 or more games with the San Francisco Giants five times, including 103 wins in 1993.   He won a divisional title in Chicago, and has won two more in Cincinnati.

                The San Francisco Giants won 75 games in 1991, and 72 games in 1993.   They added Barry Bonds that winter—and Dusty Baker.   They won 103 games.

                Is it unrealistic to say that that team exceeded expectations by 27 games, given that they added Barry Bonds?   Sure.

                But the team did succeed.    It is not unrealistic to say that the Giants exceeded expectations by 15 games in 1997, or that the Cincinnati Reds exceeded expectations by 15 games in 2012.    Dusty Baker has had nine seasons in which his teams have exceeded expectations by a total 115 wins.   That’s a very solid record.

                Like Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland was out of the managing racket for several years in the heart of the steroid era; as I recall, in his case he was kicked out for smoking.  No?   Whatever.

                As best I can measure it, Leyland is just one point behind Dusty Baker as a Hall of Fame candidate, 94 points to 93.   And yes, I would rather have Jim Leyland managing my team than Dusty Baker, but that’s just my opinion.

                Among all of the managers we have discussed in the last two days, there are only two whose entire managerial career has been with one team:   Danny Murtaugh and Mike Scioscia.   (Some of the actual Hall of Famers, who we discussed on Monday, were one-team managers.)

                Like Baker and Leyland, Scioscia does not have a Hall of Fame record at this time, but is very close; I have him at 91.   He has time. …well, he has time if he loses some weight.    He is fifteen years younger than Davey Johnson (which also makes him fifteen years younger than Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.  Scioscia is actually the second-youngest manager on this list of 13 active candidates, behind Terry Francona.)   If he can put together one more big season—and God knows he has the talent to work with—Scioscia will have a Hall of Fame record.

                Charlie Manuel scores at 74 points on our charts, 74% of a Hall of Fame record. 

                Charlie Manuel is almost one full year older than Jim Leyland.  Both were born in 1944, but Manuel at one end of the year and Leyland at the other.    Dusty Baker is my age, both of us born in 1949.  Bruce Bochy, six years younger than Baker and I, has 68% of a Hall of Fame resume.  Did you know that Bruce Bochy has a losing record in his career as a manager?   He does.   Managing in San Diego for twelve years will do that to you.

                It’s a losing record, but with a lot of high points.   In my judgment, he is not a Hall of Fame manager at this point. 

                Terry Francona, like Bochy, has two World Series rings, and he has a better won-lost record, but with fewer highlights and fewer "plus win" seasons.    He is four years younger than Bochy, and I estimate that his Hall of Fame career is 59% complete.

                Ron Gardenhire, having a little down phase after winning 90 games like clockwork from 2002 to 2010, is at 55 points (or 55% of a Hall of Fame career.) 

                Buck Showalter is at 51 points.  

Joe Maddon and Ron Washington both got late starts in the careers, and are now at 37 points and 35 points, respectively.  

                If you are trying to build an impressive record, managing in places like Colorado and Pittsburgh could be considered a Hurdle.    Clint Hurdle, halfway in age between Bochy and Francona, is a good manager, but has only 30% of a Hall of Fame resume. 

                Jim Tracy, although I think he is also a very good manager, is only at 25 points.




                Thanks for reading.  



COMMENTS (6 Comments, most recent shown first)

I also loved this series. I had 2 things to add: 1) doesn't Davey Johnson have to be marked down at least a little for the decade that no organization seemed to want to hire him? and 2) As a Cub fan I couldn't wait until they got rid of Dusty Baker. I'd be shocked if he ever makes the HOF.
6:28 PM Feb 28th
I'm more surprised that Billy Martin isn't docked some points for HOW we was able to turn things around so quickly...namely overworking pitchers to the point of absurdity (the infamous job he did with the young A's staff in 1980; throwing Lolich for 376 innings in 1971, etc.).

BJ touched on this point when profiling Chuck Tanner, and I believe that it deserves to be fully addressed.

BTW, I loved this series. Thanks, Bill. It's stuff like this that keeps me riveted to this site.
12:34 AM Feb 22nd
Alan Stewart
KaiserD2, Bill's book actually contained two rating methods -- expected performance, and points-for-performance, with similar not but identical weightings and formulae to that used here. But the two methods were separate, not combined. The expected-performance formula (weighting good years, ignoring bad), is new, as is also the combination into one method.

Bill said in the first book that of the two, he would prefer points-for-performance.
9:09 AM Feb 21st
I have enjoyed these articles very much. I did wonder about the extensive weight given to won-loss and championships, because Bill's Managers book, as I remember (I don't have my copy handy) relied exclusively on performance vs. expected performance, and I thought it came up with very fair rankings that way. (Bucky Harris was one manager who came out much better by that method.)
On another front, I also remember the author's admiration for Billy Martin dates back at least thirty years, based, of course, on the extraordinary impact he had on the won-loss record of team after team. However, since Bill (James) has written frequently and eloquently about how Dick Allen's statistics do not entitle him to enter the Hall because his net effect upon his teams was so negative, I was somewhat surprised not to see any parallel comments about Martin. He was an extremely talented but fatally flawed manager, it seems to me, and I can't see how anyone could vote for him for the Hall.

David Kaiser
6:54 AM Feb 21st
Really good.
1:10 PM Feb 20th
Thanks, Bill, I enjoyed this.

11:21 AM Feb 20th
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