With the announcement that he was hanging up his spikes after a 22-year managerial career, Jim Leyland leaves behind quite a track record. But is it good enough for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown?
As of the end of the 2013 season, he is the winningest active manager in the game.
Here is where Leyland ranks among managers:
- 14th all time in games managed with 3,499
- 15th all time in wins with 1.769
- 10th all time in losses with 1,728
- 7th all time in playoff appearances with 8
- Six division titles
- Three pennants
- One World Series title
There are 19 managers in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Leyland has managed more games than eleven hall of fame managers, and more wins than ten of them, including Tommy Lasorda, Dick Williams, and Earl Weaver. His winning percentage of .506 is better than three hall of fame managers, and very close to Casey Stengel’s .508.
A few more recently retired managers are hall of fame candidates. Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre are strong candidates, each with more career wins and a higher win percentage than Leyland. The only managers with more wins who are not in the hall are Lou Piniella and Gene Mauch, Mauch has a career percentage of .483 with no World Series wins.
While Leyland has just one World Series title, with the Florida Marlins in 1997, one must consider that there are almost twice as many teams now than there were for the first sixty years of major league baseball, and there is a gauntlet of post season play to get through in the modern age.
If Leyland is not admitted to the hall of fame, it is likely his win percentage and lack of multiple world championships that keeps him out.
What makes a hall of fame manager, anyway. Is it wins? Most would agree that wins have a lot more to do with the players on the team than the manager. I would suggest that longevity might be a better indicator of a successful manager. Ultimately, a manager has to win games in order to survive. Just keeping a job more than two decades is a hefty accomplishment.
The fact that Leyland has more total wins and more total games managed than most managers in the hall of fame are the strongest points to be made in his case for entry into baseball’s elite club.