Back on Monday when we made the decision to even out the nominees in our final two elections, we did so without consideration for who would be getting in and who would be moving on. Rather, we just wanted about the same number of nominees in both elections. Live and learn, I guess.
For the fifth time in twelve preliminary elections, we’re not going to elect a soul. You were expecting Bob Brenley?
In fact of the nine nominees in this truncated election, only one of them, Frank Robinson, will move to our second phase. Here’s the group of 28 we’ve reviewed but have yet to decide on.
Jim Mutrie Harry Wright Charlie Comiskey Cap Anson Frank Selee Ned Hanlon Fred Clarke Clark Griffith George Stallings Frank Chance Hughie Jennings Wilbert Robinson Bill Terry Bill McKechnie Billy Southworth Steve O'Neill Bucky Harris Charlie Grimm Al Lopez Leo Durocher Danny Murtaugh Ralph Houk Dick Williams Billy Martin Whitey Herzog Red Schoendienst Tommy Lasorda Frank Robinson
While I know this hasn’t been a particularly exciting election, it has been productive. With eight more obituaries, we’ve now written 58 in total. And with eight others getting elected, we have only 34 more of our original 100 to deal with. Check out the numbers.
Remaining Remaining Year Nominees Elected Obituaries Continuing to Consider to Elect ================================================================================= 2007 9 0 8 1 34 14 2000 8 1 6 1 42 14 1990 11 1 5 5 49 15 1980 7 1 4 2 55 16 1970 8 1 6 1 60 17 1960 8 0 4 4 67 18 1950 6 2 2 2 71 18 1940 4 1 2 1 75 20 1930 6 1 3 2 78 21 1920 7 0 4 3 82 22 1910 7 0 5 2 86 22 1900 13 0 9 4 91 22
Among managers not in the Hall of Fame who managed only one team, Tom Kelly won the most games, 1140. And he was succeeded by the manager who won the third most, Ron Gardenhire. Are these guys so dedicated to the Twins, or are they not impressive enough to be hired elsewhere? As for Kelly, his two World Series titles suggest he had the chops to find other employment if he chose. But his record, all told, is beneath HoME level. If he could have hung around for another ten seasons, which the Twins might just have allowed, and had Gardenhire’s success, I don’t think we’d be seeing this obit today.
Johnny Oates spent eleven years managing the Orioles and Rangers. Though he reached the playoffs three times, his teams won a total of one game once they got there. He won 797 games at a .517 clip, which is a fine career but not HoME-worthy.
It’s not really clear if Art Howe was the hard-headed old time baseball guy Philip Seymour Hoffman played in Moneyball. He’s almost certainly a more nuanced figure than was portrayed in Hollywood. What is clear is that he was a reasonably successful manager, winning 1129 games for the Astros, A’s, and Mets. His best years were with those Moneyball A’s from 2000-2002. During that time the team averaged almost 99 wins and went to the playoffs all three seasons. Unfortunately for the A’s and Howe, they lost each playoff series in five games. Billy Beane’s stuff doesn’t work in the post-season, donchaknow. Howe needed more playoff success for us to keep considering him for the HoME.
Jimy Williams began his managerial career when he replaced Bobby Cox in Toronto in 1986. And he remained a Blue Jay until they were about ready to win–ceding the helm to Cito Gaston in 1989, just a few years before their back-to-back titles. Something similar happened in Boston, losing his job in 2001, just a few years before the Sox reversed the curse. All told, he finished second seven times, including six straight years for the Sox and ‘stros from 1998-2003. He had no playoff series wins though, and he has no shot at the HoME.
Bob Brenly was in the right place at the right time when he was named the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks prior to the 2001 season. They won the World Series in his first year. And they won six more games in the next regular season, though they were swept out of the playoffs. The D’backs struggled some in 2003, and really failed in 2004 when Brenly was fired. That’s his career. And his HoME eligibility.
The 1994 strike interrupted baseball history just as it was making it. Felipe Alou was leading the Montreal Expos to what many thought could have been a run at the World Series that was never played. That was the only one of his ten seasons in Montreal when Alou finished in first place. In Chris Jaffe’s outstanding book, Evaluating Baseball’s Managers, he says that Alou’s race kept him out of the Hall. I think Jaffe does an excellent job supporting the idea that a guy getting his first job at age-57 and finding Alou’s success would likely have found a good deal of success as a younger manager. But another thing Jaffe tells us is that managers do their best work at the start of their careers. Might Alou have been amazing if he began at 42? Of course. But I think it’s possible that if he began 15 seasons before he did, he might not have been that great as he aged. His only time making the playoffs was 2003 with the Giants. The team lost in four games, and with just 1033 wins, Alou loses his chances at the HoME.
Known during his playing career at The Human Rain Delay, Mike Hargrove was set up to have an outstanding career as a manager. He got his first job in Cleveland in 1991 as the Indians rebuild was nearing its end. 1995 began a run of five straight years winning the AL Central. Hargrove’s career didn’t take off because he was only able to convert two pennants and no World Series titles. The Indians decided to make a change after the 1999 season, so Hargrove joined the Orioles and later the Mariners. In his six full seasons with those two teams, he finished fourth every year. Even with 1188 wins, he’s no HoMEr
It would be interesting to know precisely why certain guys get certain jobs. Phil Garner managed the Brewers and Tigers from 1992-2002, and his only top-2 finish was his first year with the Brewers. Then, with the Astros ready to win, he was hired by Houston with a bit more than half of the 2004 season done. They made the playoffs that season and the next, winning the 2005 pennant. Was the 985 game winner the best choice? I wonder. I know, however, that he’d be a poor choice for the HoME.