Bruce Bochy aims at .500

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.

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  1. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    Nice history lesson, thanks!

    The amazing thing is that in his career, as my research showed, he is +77 in 1-run games over his managerial career.  Even though he only managed 6-7% of the team seasons during his career, he holds 40%+ of the times that a manager had a +8 or higher more wins in 1-run games.  The Null Hypothesis testing on whether he is a .500 manager in 1-run games has him statistically significantly at the 95% confidence level that he is above .500.

    Without that boost in his career, he would probably be still years away from reaching .500 again.  And, out of the 5 times he has made the playoffs, swapping out half of his plus total (i.e. assuming a 1-run win turns into a 1-run loss, changing a +4 season to a 0 season), he would have been out of the playoffs for sure twice, two other times his team would have fallen to a tie or 1 game lead, which could have resulted in a fall out of the playoffs (say, if his win turned loss was to the next team in standings).  Only his one World Series season with the Padres would have been still a playoff team for sure.

  2. DrBGiantsfan said...

    If(furiously knocks on wood) the Giants were to win another WS this year, Bochy starts to make a case for being a HOF manager.

  3. Ian R. said...

    It’s worth noting that Bochy has has access to an elite closer for almost his entire managerial career. Trevor Hoffman was the Padres’ closer for all but one season of Bochy’s tenure (2003, when he was injured) and Brian Wilson has been tremendous (in terms of results, not necessarily components) in three of his six seasons managing the Giants. That’s not to say that he doesn’t deserve some credit for his teams’ success in one-run games, but the closers have to be a factor as well.

  4. DrBGiantsfan said...

    Let’s see, closers are overrated except when they are underrated?  Love the ability of people on this site to argue any point from any angle!

  5. Ian R. said...

    Oh, closers are absolutely overrated. I’m just saying that having an excellent closer (along with other excellent relief pitchers) probably plays some role in performing excellently in one-run games, and over the course of a long managerial career, could easily account for some significant portion of those 78 extra wins.

  6. DrBGiantsfan said...

    I can’t speak to what role Bochy had in installing Hoffman as his closer in SD, but Bochy definitely identified Wilson as his closer of the future and handed him the job at a time when a lot of people had doubts about whether Wilson was even going to stick in the majors.  So, IF having great closers helped Bochy win all those 1 run games, he created his own good fortune with at least one of them.

  7. Max L said...

    thanks for the good read. this is quite interesting seeing how most of his squad in the past decade isn’t that good at scoring runs.

  8. Obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    If I got it right, he is back under again.  It should not take him as long to reach .500 again, hopefully.

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