The 2018 Managers

Wednesday, September 26 2018 @ 10:50 PM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

There were 33 of them this season - three have already been replaced (Price, Matheny, Banister), two of them with interim place-holders. We know the Blue Jays and Rangers will definitely be looking for someone new for next year. The Reds probably will as well (interim skipper Jim Riggelman is described as a candidate for next year, but he's also 65 years old.)  Maybe the Angels and Royals will make a change. Probably the Orioles. Maybe the Mets.

The Blue Jays have hired 11 managers in franchise history (two of them they hired twice), and nine of those men had never managed in the major leagues before getting the Toronto job. Only two of the nine would get a managerial job with another organization when they were finished in Toronto (Jimy Williams and John Farrell.)  And the two guys the Jays hired who did have major league managerial experience didn't exactly have distinguished resumes. Bobby Cox had managed in Atlanta for four years, and finished above .500 once. Barely (81-80). Jim Fregosi had been taken on by three different teams as a mid-season replacement, and managed for parts of thirteen seasons. Just three of those thirteen teams posted a winning record.

But I was mostly curious about what this year's 33 had been in the bloom of youth, when they were  players. Were they scrappy middle infielders? (the ten managers with the most wins all-time includes eight former infielders) Or were they old catchers? (Connie Mack was a catcher, and he won more games than anyone. Of course, he owned the team.)

In 2018 they were probably old catchers, especially if they worked in the American League. No less than nine of the sixteen men who managed in the AL this year were catchers in their playing days. All but one of those nine was a career backup. The exception, of course, was Mike Scioscia who spent  ten years as a regular and played in two All-Star games. But Cash, Gibbons, Yost, Melvin, Hinch, Servais, Banister, and Wakamatsu have exactly one 100 game season between them (Hinch.) 

The other seven AL managers were all infielders. Paul Molitor, the most distinguished player of the current crop of active managers, played all over the diamond. When he was an everyday defensive player he was mostly a third baseman. So was Aaron Boone, who played in one All-Star Game. Terry Francona was a first-baseman/outfielder (just like his father.)  Buck Showalter never played in the majors - he was a minor league first-baseman. Three AL managers were backup middle infielders - Rick Renteria was mainly a second-baseman.  Alex Cora and Ron Gardenhire played both short and second, but both played more often at shortstop.

Molitor, of course, is in the Hall of Fame as a player, which makes him unique among today's managers. It used to be common for Hall of Fame players to try their hand at managing. Not any more - I think the last before Molitor to give it a shot was Ryne Sandberg. Before Sandberg, I think we have to go all the way back to Frank Robinson. (Alan Trammell's in the Hall now, but he wasn't when he was managing the Tigers.)

Things were much more interesting in the National League, where only four former catchers had managerial jobs to start the season, and one of them didn't make it through to the end. That would be Mike Matheny, who actually won a pair of Gold Gloves in his time as a good-field no-hit backstop. Bruce Bochy was a career backup, Joe Maddon and Brian Snitker never made it to the majors.

The NL had five former infielders working as managers, including a former MVP. That was the old Yankee first baseman, Don Mattingly. Jim Riggelman was a minor league third baseman who never made it to the majors. Craig Counsell had a long, long career playing mostly second base; Torey Lovullo and Andy Green were also second baseman who didn't do much to distinguish themselves as major league players.

The NL opened the season with four former outfielders and three former pitchers managing teams. The AL didn't have any of either. Of the four former outfielders, Dave Martinez had the best playing career, although Dave Roberts had the most memorable moment. Gabe Kapler and Clint Hurdle both had memorable magazine covers, if not a whole lot else. (Well, that's a little unfair to Kapler who played in 12 seasons and was a regular for a few of them.)

Bud Black had by far the best career of the former pitchers now managing - Black won 121 games in his long career, 2 of them for 1990 Blue Jays. Mets manager Mickey Callaway went 4-11 in bits and pieces of five AL seasons, and Bryan Price never made it to the majors. Nor did he last very long in Cincinnati this season.

Terry Francona is definitely going to the Hall of Fame for his managerial accomplishments and it's going to be hard to keep Bruce Bochy out even though the last two troubled years in San Francisco have dropped his career record below .500. If Bochy returns for his 25th season in the dugout, he'll probably become just the 11th man to manage 2000 victories. Plus he's got three WS titles and every manager with three WS titles (you know, as many as Earl Weaver, Bobby Cox, and Leo Durocher combined) is in the Hall.

Let's add it up:

Catcher (13) - Scioscia, Melvin, Hinch, Cash, Gibbons, Servais, Banister, Wakamatsu, Matheny, Bochy, Maddon, Snitker
First Base (3) - Mattingly, Francona, Showalter
Second Base (4) - Counsell, Lovullo, Renteria, Green
Third Base (3) - Molitor, Boone, Riggelman
Shortstop (2) - Cora, Gardenhire
Left Field (0) - Left fielders do not normally become managers, Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella notwithstanding. Left fielders are usually thinking about their next time at bat.
Centre Field (3) - Martinez, Roberts, Kapler
Right Field (1) - Hurdle
Pitcher (3) - Black, Callaway, Price

That's 32 of the 33 men who managed in the majors this season. The last guy is Mike Shildt of the Cardinals. Shildt never played professional ball. Shildt wasn't good enough to play regularly at the college level. He spent three years as a backup infielder at UNC-Asheville. He says he managed to hit some foul balls.

Of the eleven Blue Jays managers, Buck Martinez had a very long career as a major league catcher (17 seasons) and John Gibbons had a very short one (18 games.) Jim Fregosi, who was easily the best player of any Jays manager, and Bobby Mattick were shortstops, Roy Hartsfield, Tim Johnson, and Jimy Williams were utility infielders. Bobby Cox was a third baseman, with bad knees even then. Cito Gaston was a centre fielder, John Farrell was a pitcher. Carlos Tosca never played pro ball. He played first base and pitched in high school and college.