Friday, March 29, 2013
Bruce Bochy: On way to Hall of Fame?
By David Schoenfield
Bruce Bochy will be managing the San Francisco Giants at least through 2016, which would seem to be a very good thing.
Bochy has managed for 18 seasons in the major leagues -- which is a long time for any manager to survive -- but he's only 57 so has a chance to climb up pretty high on the all-time win list if he continues past 2016. He's already 23rd on the all-time wins, ahead of several Hall of Fame managers, including Whitey Herzog. He'll pass Earl Weaver and Clark Griffith this year and if he averages 88 wins per season through 2016 he'll move up to 15th or 16th (depending on how long Jim Leyland and Dusty Baker last).
Bochy, of course, has two World Series titles with the Giants, although his career winning percentage is barely over .500 -- 1454-1444. The only managers elected to the Hall of Fame (as managers) with a lower winning percentage are Connie Mack and Bucky Harris. And two World Series titles doesn't guarantee Hall of Fame election. Danny Murtaugh won two with the Pirates and never made it. Cito Gaston won two with the Blue Jays and won't get elected to Cooperstown anytime soon. Terry Francona has won two and has a better lifetime winning percentage than Bochy. But Bochy has more lifetime wins than those three and longevity matters for Hall of Fame managers.
A few weeks ago, Bill James outlined a system for electing managers to the Hall of Fame and quickly evaluated active managers. For Bochy, he wrote:
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.
He's wrong about the losing record, of course, so not sure what he was looking at. (Bochy is also 30-25 in the postseason, in case you were wondering). What's interesting is that James says Baker has 94 percent of a Hall of Fame resume, despite no World Series titles. His winning percentage is .525 and he has seven 90-win seasons compared to four for Bochy.
In some regards, for managers to get elected, personality and image seem as important as World Series titles. Herzog won just one World Series but had a loud, outspoken reputation. Dick Williams managed the A's to two titles in the '70s but also had a gruff, grumpy personality that made him seem like a tough leader of men. Bochy is quiet and and lets the players take the spotlight. As it should be.
Certainly, one more championship probably clinches Cooperstown for Bochy. Until then, he's probably a borderline candidate.