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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Hall of Fame Case for Davey Johnson

Johnson managed for 17 seasons and won 1,372 games, posting a .562 winning percentage. He was twice named Manager of the Year. He won the 1986 World Series with the Mets, led his clubs to first place finishes in his division six times and second place finishes eight times, making the playoffs in six seasons overall. He would’ve likely won another division title and made another playoff appearance but for the strike-shortened 1994 season.

Johnson was on the scene as the Mets ascended to greatness and they descended into trash not long after he left. He did his best under a combustible owner in Cincinnati, managed to maintain the success Lou Piniella had there and the team got worse after he left. The Orioles were a sub-.500 team before he arrived, he took them to the playoffs twice, he left and they spent more than a decade in the wilderness. The Nationals made the playoffs for the first time after he took over. Only the Dodgers did not see dramatic improvement under Johnson, but nor did they really decline.

Bote Man Posted: December 05, 2018 at 04:35 PM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: craig calcaterra, davey johnson, hall of fame

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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 05, 2018 at 08:12 PM (#5794393)
I'm not sure voters think of it this way, but the pattern for managers being elected appears to include a litmus test, with few exceptions: Did you win multiple World Series championships as a manager?

23 managers have won 2 or more championships.
- 15 are in the HOF
- Two others are still active (Bochy, the only one with three or more not already in; and Francona, with two)
- The other six are Bill Carrigan (who only managed seven years), Jim Mutrie (who managed nine years in the 19th century), Danny Murtaugh (60 and 71 Pirates), Tom Kelly (87 and 91 Twins), Ralph Houk (who managed 20 years, but won his first two years with the 61 and 62 Yankees, then nothing after), and Cito Gaston (92 and 93 Blue Jays). Only two of them won over 1000 games and has a record above .500 (Houk and Murtaugh).

51 managers have won exactly one championships, and as you can imagine, their resumes are all over the map. 16 of them are in the Hall of Fame, though many of them are in because of their days as a player, not a manager:

- Tris Speaker, Bill Terry, Bob Lemon, Rogers Hornsby, Frankie Frisch, Mickey Cochrane, Jimmy Collins, and Lou Boudreau are there for their playing days. Others, like Ed Barrow and Charles Cominsky, are there as executives.

- That leaves the following six managers are have exactly one championship, and are in the HOF for their managing record: Fred Clarke, early 20th century with the Giants), Bobby Cox, Leo Durocher, Whitey Herzog, Red Schoendienst (though this is almost certainly broader than just managing), and Earl Weaver. (It should also be noted that Joe Maddon and Mike Scioscia are in this category, and are still working.)

- The managers with the most wins that have no championships are:
13. Gene Mauch (1902-2037, .483)
15. Dusty Baker (1863-1636, .532)
24. Buck Showalter (1551-1517, .506)
25. Clark Griffith (1491-1367, .522, in the HOF)
28. Al Lopez (1410-1004, .584, in the HOF)
29. Jimmy Dykes (1406-1541, .477)
30. Wilbert Robinson (1399-1398, .500, in the HOF)
Davey Johnson is 31st, 1372-1071, .562, one WS)
Chuck Tanner is 32nd, and is not going into the HOF.

- Of all who have managed 10 or more season, Davey Johnson has the 12th-highest winning percentage (.562). The 11 ahead of him are all in the HOF. Four of the next five below him are also in the HOF (the one exception is Steve O'Neill, who managed for 14 years between 1935 and 1954).

Going through all that, the only current candidates who have as good or better a case than Johnson, IMO, are:
- Dusty Baker: 15th-most wins ever, 2nd most wins of anybody eligible not in (Mauch is 13th, but has a losing record and no titles);
- Lou Pinella: 16th-most wins ever, has a championship, and like Baker, has a good enough playing career that it adds a little bit to the case.
- Jim Leyland: 17th-most wins ever, has a championship, and tied for the 4th-most playoff wins ever (pretty much everybody at the top of that list is in the HOF).
- Davey Johnson: 31st-most wins ever, has a championship, best WP not in the HOF, and a lot better than the three other guys on this list.

I think you have to put in Leyland before Johnson, and it's hard for me to put Johnson in before the other two guys. I mean, Baker has almost 500 more career wins than Johnson, and Pinella's at 450 more wins - that's a lot of wins. Whitey Herzog is the best comp for a HOFer to Johnson. Johnson has more wins and a better WP, but I think Herzog was seen as a bigger personality in the game, leaving a bigger footprint. It is hard to think of the mid-70s to late 80s history of baseball and not think of Herzog's Royals of the 70s, or Cardinals of the 80s. Herzog came very, very close to winning three or four WS in a little over a decade, and that is reflected in his induction.
   2. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: December 05, 2018 at 08:25 PM (#5794396)
I've long assumed that Fred Clarke was in as a player. Looking at his numbers, I can see why ... though I also see that his HOF plaque makes note of his 4 pennants & 1 WS title as "the first of the successful 'boy managers.'"
   3. Chris Fluit Posted: December 05, 2018 at 08:59 PM (#5794409)
I think you have to put in Leyland before Johnson, and it's hard for me to put Johnson in before the other two guys.

Except Johnson is on the ballot this year. Leyland and Baker are not. (Piniella is on this year's ballot as well so you could go for two, if you like.)
   4. Mefisto Posted: December 05, 2018 at 10:22 PM (#5794447)
Quibble: Clarke managed the Pirates, not the Giants.
   5. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 06, 2018 at 09:53 AM (#5794515)
I tend to peakiness and I love middle infielders who can hit, so for me Johnson gets a little player credit added to his case.
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: December 06, 2018 at 10:01 AM (#5794520)

I tend to peakiness and I love middle infielders who can hit, so for me Johnson gets a little player credit added to his case.


I'm a firm supporter of combining playing record and managerial work, so Johnson is an easy call for me. Dusty's close (but Piniella's reputation far outdistanced his actual performance on the field).
   7. TomH Posted: December 06, 2018 at 04:06 PM (#5794756)
When evaluating a manager's work, we should assess not only how the team did while he was there, but also the surrounding years. Without this, a manager could ask for his best pitchers to toss way-too-many innings, and ruin some careers... after he quits.
   8. GregD Posted: December 06, 2018 at 04:09 PM (#5794760)
When evaluating a manager's work, we should assess not only how the team did while he was there, but also the surrounding years. Without this, a manager could ask for his best pitchers to toss way-too-many innings, and ruin some careers... after he quits.
we should penalize a manager because his team declined when he left?
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: December 06, 2018 at 05:03 PM (#5794796)
Without this, a manager could ask for his best pitchers to toss way-too-many innings, and ruin some careers... after he quits.


Most of them don't quit. The end isn't always apparent.

I do think that there is something to the argument (Billy Martin's usage of the 1981 A's starting staff weighs quite heavily against the surprise split-season crown), but weaker performance before and after is generally going to suggest a guy was getting a little more out of the troops.

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