Friday, August 24, 2012
Bruce Bochy aims at .500Posted by Chris Jaffe
Today, Bruce Bochy fights to get back to sea level. As of this moment, his all-time career record is 1,430-1,431. Thus, if the Giants win today he’ll no longer be underwater but be at .500.
He’s been underwater for quite some time with all those sad sack San Diego games. The early squads, most notably the 1998 Padres pennant winner, put him over .500, but a loss on June 27, 2002 put him under .500, and he’s been under ever since.
That’s a long time ago. It’s so long ago that there was a still a big league team in Montreal. As a matter of fact, the day Bochy went under .500 the Expos got Bartolo Colon. St. Louis still mourned the recently departed Darryl Kile. Don Baylor was still a big league manager.
Moving beyond baseball, it was the same day Who bassist John Entwhistle died. Elsewhere, Saddam Hussein was in charge of Iraq, George W. Bush was president with very high approval ratings, and Pluto was still a planet.
On June 27, 2002, Bochy’s record fell to 597-598. He’s managed 1,666 games since then, which means that if he does get back to .500, he’ll make history. For a manager who was once over .500 and went under, it’s the longest stretch ever to get back to .500.
The current record holder is Jim Leyland, who went over 1,250 games between going .500. He fell under .500 in May 1998 and went back over at the very end of last season.
I figured Connie Mack would hold the record, but that’s not the case. He was over .500 for almost all his career. He was under .500 from 1922-26, then went back over. He fell under again in 1942, but never got back to .500.
Please note there is a key qualifier up above. Bochy would have the longest stretch in the wilderness for someone who had once been over .500. A few managers had longer stretches under .500 but hat never posted a winning record in the first place.
That’s true of Casey Stengel. He began his days managing some bad Dodgers and Braves teams. That left a sizable hole for the Yankees to dig him out of. They didn’t do it until April 17, 1953, when his record was 972-971. But the record holder is another former Yankees manager: Joe Torre. His first term with the Mets put him under .500 and he didn’t get to and over .500 until Aug. 12, 1998 when his record was 1,169-1,168.
So it took Torre 2,337 games to get there. That’s like Bochy not getting there until September 2016. But Torre had never been there. Among those who’d once been over .500, Bochy will be the new king.
Well, that’s all assuming Bochy does get there. While it’s likely given how well the Giants have played so far, it’s not a guarantee. Good teams go on slumps, and winning teams can have a bad month. And who knows what’ll happen in the offseason.
But, barring a considerable turnaround in the fortunes of the San Francisco Giants, Bruce Bochy will soon end his time under water.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.