Time to start gearing up for a new baseball season. Each year, new milestones are set, new achievements made and records broken. The most compelling ones will take place on the field when players set marks, but managers also will reach some milestones of their own.
Studying managers is something of a specialty of mine—after all, I did write a book on the subject. So in that spirit, let’s look up some of the more interesting and impressive career achievements from managers we can look forward to in 2013.
1. Bruce Bochy and the march of history
He’s gone from being an overlooked manager to one with a legitimately strong case for Cooperstown. Two world titles will do that.
Oh, and he’s been managing long enough to achieve some really gaudy career numbers. (Well, they would be gaudy if people paid much attention to managerial numbers.)
Only 19 managers ever have helmed 3,000 games. (Just think, there are more 300-game-winning pitchers than that). This year, Bochy will becomes manager No. 20. Barring rainouts and other irregularities, it should happen on Sat., July 16, 2013, when the Giants host the Diamondbacks. So make your reservations, Bay Area Bochy fans.
Oh, and along the way, Bochy also should join the 1,500-win and 1,500-loss clubs. They’ll both happen this year.
That said, Bochy’s most impressive feat of the year doesn’t involve any big, round number. No, the key number for him might be 1,480. That’s how many wins Earl Weaver had in his legendary career, and it’s just 26 more than Bochy has. Yup, he’ll pass up the Earl of Baltimore this season. Now, that’s because Weaver had a surprisingly short career for a Cooperstown manager, but still, it’s damn impressive to pass him up.
2. Mike Scioscia and the Hall of Fame
Bochy has been around forever, so he gets to pass up the most impressive name on the all-time wins list, but Mike Scioscia has been around long enough to pass up some big names as well.
With Anaheim’s 70th win of the season, Mike Scioscia will tie Harry Wright. A Hall of Fame field general, Wright was the game’s first great manager. In his book on managers, Bill James says Wright essentially invented the position. Scioscia will pass up another half-dozen guys to get to Wright, including Bobby Valentine, but Wright is the most impressive name ahead of him.
Scioscia also will join the 1,000-loss club, which is something no one wants to join, but still, it shows he’s lasted quite a long time in the profession.
Other longtime managers will also pass up some notable names on the all-time wins list. Dusty Baker will pass Tommy Lasorda and Fred Clarke. Davey Johnson should pass Hall of Fame skipper Ned Hanlon, and Terry Francona should surpass Billy Southworth, the Hall of Fame skipper with the shortest career.
3. The 1,000-games-managed club
As clubs go, this one isn’t especially prestigious, with over 100 members—125 to be exact. Then again, 125th place on the all-time hits club is Miguel Tejada with 2,362, and 125th on the homer list is Hall of Famer Al Simmons, tied with Greg Luzinski at 307. So 1,000 games managed is about as impressive as 300 homers.
Black will become one of the few former pitchers to get this high. Unless I missed someone (which is possible), just Lasorda, Clark Griffith, Fred Hutchinson, and Roger Craig have done it before him. Girardi should become the fifth-winningest Yankee skipper ever, behind only the Yankee managerial Mount Rushmore of Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, and Joe Torre.
4. The 1,000-win club
More impressive than 1,000 games is 1,000 wins. After all, that’s what it’s all about, and far fewer have made it this far, just 58 to this point.
This year, Charlie Manuel will join the club and have one of the best records ever at the time of membership. Currently, he’s 947-759, and barely more than a fourth of the members got to 1,000 wins before 800 losses.
Ron Gardenhire is sitting on 932 wins and should make it to 1,000—barring a disastrous Minnesota season. That said, the Twins are perfectly capable of pulling off a stinker of a campaign these days.
5. The 1,000-loss club
Two guys should join this club. One is Scioscia, and for the other, Johnson, making the club involves a bit of history. As of right now, among post-1900 skippers, Johnson has the most wins for someone with fewer than 1,000 losses.
Johnson is 1,286-995 for his career. Cap Anson, Cubs manager for almost all of the 19th century, retired with a record of 1,295-947. Then again, team records tended to be more extreme when Anson managed. If Johnson’s Nationals can start the year 10-4 or better, he’ll briefly have the most wins by anyone with fewer than 1,000 losses
6. Davey Johnson and games over .500
Johnson reportedly has said 2013 will be his last season. That isn’t too surprising as he turned 70 recently, and few men manage into their 70s.
So it’s nice to know that 1,000 losses will not be Johnson’s only possible achievement. If the Nationals win at least 86 games, he’ll achieve another impressive distinction, becoming just the 15th manager ever to be 300 games over .500. If you’re curious, the other 14 are Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Torre and 11 Hall of Famers. So yeah, that’s nice.
Heck, it takes a much milder record for Johnson to set a bit of Expos/Nationals franchise history. Currently, he’s 30 games over .500 with the club. Dick Williams is the current franchise standard-bearer at just 32 games over .500. Though an 83-79 would be very disappointing for the team, it would give Johnson sole possession of first place in this team category.
7. Joe Maddon, Bob Melvin and the top 100
There’s another type of big, round number to look at: placement on the rankings lists. This year, two managers will enter the top 100 on numerous lists.
The widely respected Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays will enter the top 100 ever in all time games managed and games won. Nice. Bob Melvin one-ups him, entering the top 100 in games, wins, and losses. Then again, I’m sure Melvin would rather switch places, since Maddon is still a bit away from the top 100 in career losses.
8. Ron Washington: head of the Rangers
Currently, Valentine is the winningest manager in Texas club history with 581 wins. Washington sits at 520, and so he should eclipse that mark easily. Okay, so the Rangers have been around for “only” a half-century and haven’t been covered in glory for almost all of that stretch, but Washington is the only skipper who will pass a franchise leader in wins this year. So that’s a nice achievement.
9. Charlie Manuel and Phillies history
The Rangers might be an expansion team, but the Phillies go all the way back to the 1880s, back when Chester A. Arthur was president. And next year, season No. 131 in franchise history, Manuel will become the longest-tenured skipper they’ve ever had.
Currently, Gene Mauch has the most games managed with the Phillies at 1,332. Manuel should fill out his 1,333rd Philadelphia lineup card on May 10, 2013, for a road game in Arizona.
10. Dusty Baker will become the third-longest-reigning manager in Reds history
While this isn’t as impressive as Charlie Manuel moving into first on the all-time Phillies leaderboard, it’s still impressive. By the end of 2013, Baker will be behind only two others on the list of longest managerial stints in Reds history.
It doesn’t seem like he’s been around nearly long enough to do that, do he? Heck, the Reds have been around since 1882. But this will be Baker’s sixth season, and when the year is over, his 972 games managed with the club will be behind only Hall of Famers Sparky Anderson and Bill McKechnie.
Jack Hendricks, Hutchinson, and Pete Rose also managed six years with the Reds. But Hendricks did it in the age of the 154-game schedule. Hutchinson’s ill-health forced him to step down in his sixth year, and the league banned Rose for gambling.
Those are some of the more interesting managerial milestones to look forward to this year.