Welcome to Snyder's Soapbox! Here I will pontificate about a matter related to Major League Baseball. Some of the topics I hit in the coming weeks will be pressing matters, some might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things and most will be somewhere in between. The good thing about this website is it's free and you are allowed to click away. If you stay, you'll get smarter, though, that's a money-back guarantee. Let's get to it.
Sunday night, it was announced thatby this year's version of a veteran's committee (the Contemporary Era Committee). I'm a big fan of Leyland and I'm excited he got into the Hall, but I still feel like managers are a bit under-represented in Cooperstown.
Upon induction, Leyland will be the 24th manager in the Hall. Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre were the last managers to get in and that was 2014. Since Sparky Anderson got in with the 2000 class, there have been seven managers admitted.
In general, there should be overwhelmingly more players in the Hall of Fame than anyone else, including managers, executives, pioneers, umpires, etc. I want to be clear about that. There's no game without the players and no one is showing up to watch the managers. Still, there are 271 players and counting, a number that is likely to jump to close to 280 until next time there are managers on the ballot.
I think it's reasonable to say the number of managers in the Hall of Fame can be around 10% of the players.
Also, Connie Mack is the manager that goes furthest back, as he first managed in 1894. Up to date, that means there's about one manager for every 5.375 years of baseball. I think we'd all survive just fine if there was one manager out of every four years inducted into the Hall of Fame and as long as we stay above that mark, it isn't a watered-down Hall.
Plus, there are plenty of deserving managers right now on the outside looking in. We just saw three fall short of induction.
Cito Gaston won five division titles in 12 years and was a two-time World Series champ as a manager. He was the first Black manager to ever win the World Series. He packed an unbelievable amount of achievement into a short time and with players we call that a Peak Candidate. Think about someone like Sandy Koufax who was really only great for five years but in those five years he was outrageously elite, winning three Cy Youngs and an MVP. If you want a lesser peak candidate, we could talk about Ralph Kiner.
Davey Johnson won six division titles with four different teams. He won 108 games and the World Series in 1986 (and it seems like that clubhouse would've been pretty tough to hold together). His .562 career winning percentage means his average season was 91-71. There's peak, longevity and a high floor.
Lou Piniella is 17th all-time in manager wins. He won 116 games in a season. He was a wire-to-wire division winner with the 1990 World Series champion Reds. He won six division titles with three different teams. Did you know the Mariners have only won three division championships in their history and he won all three? This seems an obvious case.
It's tougher to nail down statistical cases for managers than players, I understand that. Let's go on feel, then. For those of us who watched the majority of their managerial careers: Don't Gaston, Piniella and Johnson just feel like Hall of Famers?
If all three got in, that would be 27 Hall of Fame managers. That's no travesty.
We do have some slam-dunk Hall of Fame managers coming to the ballot in a few years in Terry Francona and Dusty Baker. Bruce Bochy will get in once eligible as well. I suppose we can tally things up and say those three make it 27, but there's room to get to 30 or even a few over that total.
There's room for Gaston, Johnson, Piniella and possibly 2-3 others.
Whitey Herzog is in with 1,281 wins, a .532 winning percentage, three pennants and one World Series title. The ever-polarizing Billy Martin has 1,253 wins with a .553 winning percentage, two pennants and a World Series championship through essentially the same era. Ralph Houk's resume isn't too dissimilar from those of Dick Williams and Tommy Lasorda.
Does Joe Maddon have a case? He has more wins than Davey Johnson, Cap Anson and Herzog. He also won the AL pennant with the Rays, fresh off being the embarrassing Devil Rays, and the won the World Series with the Cubs after 108 years of misery and a supposed "curse."
Chuck Tanner is in the same ballpark in wins as Johnson and Maddon. He won the World Series with the Pirates -- their most recent trip to the Fall Classic (1979).
There's definitely a line somewhere in here. I'd be good with saying it leaves Tanner out along with others who are close like Jack McKeon, Tom Kelly and Mike Scioscia.
I just think the line, at present, could be moved down a few rows to make room for a few more managers in the Hall of Fame and while I'm ecstatic that Leyland is in, he shouldn't be going in alone in this class. Even once Francona, Baker and, eventually, Bochy get in there will still be a slight shortfall.