Bruce Bochy’s 2,000th managerial victory is in the books, and, while a Cooperstown calling was already a foregone conclusion with or without this milestone, this puts the soon-to-be-retired Giants skipper in some rare and heady company.
Only 10 other managers -- Connie Mack, John McGraw, Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Sparky Anderson, Bucky Harris, Joe McCarthy, Walter Alston and Leo Durocher (Hall of Famers all) -- reached 2,000 wins. So Bochy’s a rare breed… and maybe even the last of a breed.
The managerial role has changed a lot since Bochy’s 1995 managerial debut. More often, teams with an opening are going with inexperienced skippers that they feel will function best with their front office staff. Managers with overpowering personalities -- and job security -- are few and far between.
So it’s hard to say if anybody will get to 2,000 post-Boch. But here’s a look at those with a shot at it.
Terry Francona (1,663 wins)
Tito is basically baseball royalty in Cleveland at this point -- his status is as secure as the dugout seat the Indians installed for him near the steps some years back. The Tribe officially extended him through 2022, and, while everything in sports is constantly subject to change, the assumption at this point is that a front office that has been among the most stable in the game will welcome him back as long as he wants to come back. But unless the Indians are going to average around 110 wins a season over the next three years, Francona would have to work -- in Cleveland or elsewhere -- beyond 2022 to reach 2,000.
Therein lies the rub, because Francona’s age (60) and the various medical issues that have forced him to limit his pregame duties do make you wonder how much longer he’ll want to do this. For now, he still has the passion to keep pushing.
Bob Melvin (1,219)
As with so many things associated with the A’s, the casual fan might not realize how successful Melvin has been. He’s fifth on the active managerial victories list, and, at 58, he might have more mileage ahead of him than some others mentioned in this piece.
Melvin’s current pact with Oakland runs through 2021, and their history together of performance that exceeds payroll is well-established. But Melvin will need roughly another decade of work to close in on 2K. That’s a lot.
Very outside chance
Joe Maddon (1,250)
Baseball’s grooviest manager might not always act his age (in a good way), but take note that he will turn 66 prior to Opening Day 2020. He’s also very well-compensated, at a time when fewer teams are willing to invest in experience in this role.
So while there is currently very little question that Maddon would find another gig if the Cubs do actually cut him loose after this final season of his contract (there has already been lots of industry speculation that Philadelphia, near his Hazleton, Pa., hometown, could become a possibility), the long-term future’s more cloudy. At minimum, Maddon would have to work into 2027 -- his age-73 season -- to have a shot at 2,000. And that’s assuming he maintains the just-north-of-90-win pace he’s kept up since the Rays broke out in 2008.
Clint Hurdle (1,265)
Hurdle’s ever-so-slightly ahead of Maddon in wins, he’s a few years younger (turned 62 in July), and he’s under contract in Pittsburgh for another two years. But a second half full of turmoil has unleashed a lot of speculation as to whether the Buccos will shake things up this offseason.
And even if they don’t, Hurdle will obviously have to stay in this role either in Pittsburgh or elsewhere well beyond 2021 to get there. It bears repeating: With the game trending younger and more analytical in every facet, that’s a tall order.
Ned Yost (1,200) and Ron Gardenhire (1,177)
They also merit mention as the only other active skippers north of 1,000, but they are both north of 60 and overseeing major rebuild projects at present.
Don’t forget these guys
Dusty Baker (1,863), Mike Scioscia (1,650) and Buck Showalter (1,551)
Should any of these guys get back in the game, they’ve got a shot, though obviously it would take an added bit of longevity for Scioscia and Showalter, and both men are in their 60s.
Five of Baker’s last six seasons (2010-13 in Cincinnati and 2016-17 in Washington) produced at least 90 victories, but he was ousted after back-to-back National League East titles with the Nats. He turned 70 in June.
Scioscia’s name is another that’s been tossed into the rumor mill should the Philly job actually open, and, though he stepped down a year ago after 19 seasons with the Angels, he has publicly expressed a willingness to manage again in the right scenario.
Showalter’s name is also sure to surface in what could be a busy offseason on the managerial turnover front.
Keep up the pace
These are the younger active managers with the best chance of getting there.
AJ Hinch (563)
He’s 45 years old and currently held up as the gold standard of the modern manager, and, while his first brief stint with the D-backs was a true learning experience, he’s wrapping up his fifth straight season over .500 and third straight 100-win season with the Astros.
Kevin Cash (403)
Wrapping up his fifth season, Cash has proved the perfect person to implement the Rays’ forward-thinking strategies and that will serve him well in St. Petersburg or elsewhere as the game continues to evolve. Here’s the key: Cash is only 41 years old.
Craig Counsell (398)
Counsell, who is in his fifth season, is also unafraid of thinking outside the box, and his extensive playing career and two World Series rings have helped him relate to and coax the most out of his players. He is 49.
Dave Roberts (385)
Four straight seasons of division titles and north of 90 wins is a heck of a way to launch what could turn out to be a long managerial career. Roberts is 47.
Aaron Boone (199) and Alex Cora (187)
We’ll pair them together here because they’re both in their mid-40s (Boone is 46, Cora is about to turn 44), both in their second season in the AL East and, by season’s end, will both have a division title to their name (for all we know, they might both have a World Series title, too). They embrace analytics, relate well to players and handle the media ably -- all great traits if you’re going to stick around in this era.
Rocco Baldelli (93)
He turns 38 next week, and he’s got a long, long, long way to go, obviously. But on the verge of a division title in his first try, he’s off to a pretty good start!
Just throwing it out there ...
Mike Trout (0)
He loves the game too much to stay away in his retirement, and he’s already great at racking up Wins Above Replacement. So why wouldn’t he be great at racking up wins, period?
Then again, that rationale didn’t work so well for Ted Williams. So nevermind.