I recently had a discussion about how rarely someone points out that Ken “Hawk” Harrelson ran Tony LaRussa out of Chicago. LaRussa of course has won more games than all but two managers ever, and is one of just 10 managers to win three World Series. I pointed out that he, along with Joe Torre and Bobby Cox were easily the three best managers of the last 30 years or so. But I definitely overlooked how good Bruce Bochy has been.
Bochy managed the Padres in the 1990s and even took them to the World Series in 1998. Of course he has had much greater success with the Giants in this century. Bochy has 1652 career wins as of this post. That leaves him 17th all time There are only four guys ahead of him with more regular season wins who aren’t in the Hall of Fame.
One of those guys is Gene Mauch, who managed four different teams over five different stints. He also finished 135 games under .500, made the playoffs just twice in 26 seasons and never won a pennant. Lou Pinella is not yet eligible and has less than 200 wins more than Bochy, in two more seasons managed. Pinella made the playoffs seven times, with one trip and win in the World Series. He has a good chance, but is no slam dunk. His winning percentage is better than another not yet eligible guy, Jim Leyland. Leyland won three pennants though, and had a much better playoff winning percentage. Dusty Baker has less than 20 wins more than Bochy, so he probably isn’t even relevant by the end of the season, but having never won a World Series, he seems unlikely.
Back to Bochy. His current .503 winning percentage is not great. Only three guys have more regular season wins than him and worse winning percentages. But his playoff winning percentage of .583 is better than all but four of the guys with more regular season wins than him. He has won four pennants, something only twenty-three managers ever have done, and lest not forget that at one point teams won the pennant without playing a playoff game. The big number of course is the three World Series championships he has won. He is one of just ten managers to have ever won three. Unsurprisingly all nine of the other guys are in the Hall of Fame. In fact there are only 7 guys who have won two World Series an aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Of those guys, one is still managing (Terry Francona), two managed less than 10 seasons (Jim Mutrie and Bill Carrigan). Tom Kelly had losing record in the regular season and only made the playoffs the two years they won the World Series. Cito Gaston only managed 12 seasons and very few guys with that few of seasons got in without a stellar playing career as well.
That leaves two guys with two World Series who aren’t in the Hall of Fame. One of Ralph Hauk, who joined the famous 1961 Yankees as manager and promptly won two straight World Series, got swept in a third straight and then fired. Take away those first three seasons and he went just 1310–1355 or a .491 winning percentage. Danny Murtaugh coached the Pirates four different times between 1957 and 1976. Thanks to a few partial seasons he only had 1115 career wins, currently 50th all time (fewer than Art Howe and Mike Hargrove even). That is likely what hurts him.
So if two World Series all but ensures enshrinement, three should seal it up, and so far he is in good shape. His borderline winning percentage is potentially a small problem, but as long as he keeps it over .500 he should be fine. He should crack the top 15 in wins by the end of next season. And it’s conceivable that by the end of 2017 he could have the most wins of anyone to manage after 1995 not named Torre, LaRussa or Cox. That should be more than enough. Certainly if he finds a way to win another World Series joining the elite 5 guys with at least four World Series, then his ticket is punched regardless.