Only 23 managers have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The White Sox’ Tony La Russa is one of them and, as Steve Greenberg reported Monday in the Sun-Times, is all in favor of the Astros’ Dusty Baker joining the club.
Baker has a by-the-numbers problem that he could fix by ousting the Sox and going on to win the World Series: No one whose managerial career started since Major League Baseball split into divisions in 1969 has been elected to the Hall without winning a World Series.
The Giants won the National League pennant under Baker in 2002 but lost the Series to the Angels. There are no other Series appearances on Baker’s record, although he has taken five teams, including the Cubs, to a total of 11 postseasons.
Hall of Fame managers who started in the League Championship Series era (with their Series appearances and championships) are Joe Torre (six Series appearance, four championships), La Russa (six, three), Bobby Cox (five, one), Whitey Herzog (three, one), Sparky Anderson (five, three) and Tommy Lasorda (four, two).
Two Hall of Famers who started their careers just before the LCS era began also won Series. With a career starting in 1967, Dick Williams won twice in four Series. Earl Weaver, starting in 1968, won one of his four Series.
Combining all eras, only five Hall of Fame managers didn’t win a Series. Rube Foster wasn’t Series-eligible after his three Negro National League pennants for the Chicago American Giants.
Frank Selee and Ned Hanlon managed mostly in the 19th century, before the Series was born.
Only Al Lopez and Wilbert Robinson had long AL or NL careers in the Series era and were enshrined without winning the Series. Lopez won AL pennants with the Indians in 1954 and the Sox in 1959; Robinson won NL pennants with the Brooklyn Robins (now the Dodgers) in 1915 and 1920.
Baker’s record isn’t far off those of the Hall of Famers. His 1,987 victories trail 11 Hall members, putting him in the middle. His .534 winning percentage tops that of eight Hall members. He’s near La Russa’s victory rate. The Sox’ manager is 2,821-2,434 for his career, a .538 percentage.
Taking runs scored and allowed, La Russa’s Pythagorean expectation is .534 and Baker’s .530. Managing the equivalent of 32.4 seasons in 34 years, La Russa has won 15 more games than the projection — less than a half-game per 162-game season.
It’s the same for Baker, who has managed the equivalent of 23 seasons in 24 years. He has won 14 games more than his projection, a statistically insignificant 0.6 games per season.
Among others who started managing in 1969 or later, winning percentages are .526 for Lasorda, .545 for Anderson, .532 for Herzog, .556 for Cox and .538 for Torre.
Neither his victory total nor his winning percentage rules Baker out of the Hall. But voters have treated winning a Series as a prerequisite for electing a modern manager. Baker has work to do.