When we discuss "Hall Watch" candidates here on Batter's Box, we tend to (understandably) focus on the players of today's game who might someday have plaques hanging in Cooperstown.
But what about the skippers, the captains of the ship, the bench jockeys and leaders of those very same players? There are 17 managers currently in the Hall of Fame. Are any active skippers bound to join them there someday?
To my reading, there are currently only eight legitimate candidates to consider ...
... half of who I think are slam-dunk locks to make it in right now, while the other half will at least bear some consideration down the road. Let's start with the latter group.
Will get some support:
- Terry Francona: Curse-busting can take you a long way in a voter's mind!
- Mike Scioscia: Maybe the best active manager, and managing in a major market to boot. Another couple of rings and he moves to the "slam dunk" category.
- Lou Piniella: Lots of success, from his moderate winning ways early on in the Bronx to the remarkable 116-win season in Seattle and a World Series ring in Cincinnati, of all places; if he takes the Cubs to a title, they might have to establish a new wing in the HOF for him.
- Dusty Baker: Four playoff appearances and a pennant; already more than 1300 career wins. But yes, he's an unlikely inductee.
- Jim Leyland: A (barely) losing career record to date, but he wouldn't be the first such skipper enshrined. Leyland has a pennant in Detroit, which is awesome enough, but also three division titles in Pittsburgh and a won a ring in Florida. The three-time Manager of the Year can sit for his Hall bust any time.
- Joe Torre: Very nearly a Hall of Fame quality player, Torre has spent the last 14 years managing in North America's two largest markets and made the playoffs every year. He's won six pennants and four titles (so far) and has spent 17 seasons managing in New York (five with the Mets), and another six in baseball's best -- and most scrutinous -- fan city, St. Louis. He even won the 1982 NL West with the pre-Glavine, pre-Smoltz Braves! But only two Manager of the Year awards, so he can't be THAT good ...
- Bobby Cox: Heading into 2010, Bobby Cox has managed for 28 years, won more than 2400 games, five pennants, one title and four Manager of the Year awards -- the first of those with the 1985 Blue Jays. Think he'll wear a Toronto cap into the Hall? :-)
- Tony LaRussa: Heading into 2010, TLR has managed for 31 years, won more than 2550 games, five pennants, two titles and four Manager of the Year awards -- including at least one for each of the three teams he's managed.
Those last four guys, we could do a full "Hall Watch" feature on each and leave plenty on the cutting room floor in telling the story (I almost wrote "making the case," but really, does the case need to be made?). The only one of those four who might have to wait through a debate is Leyland, and in my not-so-humble opinion, the native of tiny Perrysburg, Ohio should pretty much waltz into the Hall the first time his name appears on the ballot.
Of the first four listed, Scioscia could make a move into "lock" status, and Piniella will get enough support to perhaps make it in regardless of what comes next for him.
Do we really have six future Hall-of-Fame managers active right now? Has that ever happened before? Do you, Bauxites across the Web, disagree with any of these projections? Is anyone missing from the discussion?