San Francisco Giants: Is Bruce Bochy the most underrated manager in history?
Bruce Bochy has led the San Francisco Giants to three World Series in his nine years. But since being the Giants manager, he has never been named the Manager of the Year. But it really doesn’t matter, and here’s why.
The last San Francisco Giants manager to win the Manager of the Year award was Dusty Baker back in 2000. It just so happens that on this day in 1993, Baker became the manager following the retirement of Roger Craig. Baker won the award three times in his tenure with the team.
This is no slight on Baker as a manager, he did a great job handling a lot of personalities and was successful during the regular season (840-715). But him having three awards, and Bruce Bochy finishing no higher than third in the voting, while managing the team to three titles is absurd. (Bochy did win the award once with San Diego in 1996)
Since Bochy was hired by the Giants in 2007, the award had been handed to a different manager each year. And not one time has baseball recognized him as the best in the game.
Now that’s not to say that he had any business winning it the first two years. He was 71-91 and 72-90 in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Those were transitional years for the franchise. But since then, he has had only one sub-.500 season. That was in 2013, a year when the pitching staff couldn’t recover from the previous postseason. (Chad Gaudin made 12 starts that year.)
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First let’s look at the National League Manager of the Year award winners over the last ten seasons. It includes their record, where they finished in their division and their postseason outcome.
2006 – Joe Girardi (Florida Marlins) 78-84, 4th place, did not qualify for the playoffs. Girardi was fired after the season.
2007 – Bob Melvin (Arizona Diamondbacks) 90-72, 1st place, swept by the Colorado Rockies in NLCS. Melvin lasted another year and a half with Arizona.
2008 – Lou Piniella (Chicago Cubs) 97-64, 1st place, swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in NLDS. Piniella resigned in August of 2010.
2009 – Jim Tracy (Colorado Rockies) 92-70, 2nd place, lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS, winning one game in the best of five. Tracy left after the 2012 season.
2010 – Bud Black (San Diego Padres) 90-72, 2nd place, never made the playoffs under Black. He was fired in June 2015.
2011 – Kirk Gibson (Arizona Diamondbacks) 94-68, 1st place, lost in NLDS to the Milwaukee Brewers three games to two. Gibson was fired September 2014.
2012 – Davey Johnson (Washington Nationals) 98-64, 1st place, lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS three games to two. Johnson lasted one more year as manager, resigning after the 2013 season.
2013 – Clint Hurdle (Pittsburgh Pirates) 94-68, 2nd place, lost to the Cardinals in the NLDS in five games. Hurdle is currently managing the Pirates.
2014 – Matt Williams (Washington Nationals) 96-66, 1st place, lost to the Giants in four games in the NLDS. Williams was fired on Oct 5, 2015.
2015 – Joe Maddon (Chicago Cubs) 97-65, 3rd place, lost in the NLCS to the New York Mets. Maddon is the current manager of the Cubs.
Ten seasons, ten managers, ten awards and zero championships. Most of them didn’t even make it past the Division Series while playing on the field, and a few were out of their positions shortly after that.
Looking at the list makes you wonder how the voting has favored a new face each time (Bobby Cox was the last back-to-back winner, in 2004-2005). Maddon won two more in the American League. Piniella(3) and Johnson(2) were the only other winners multiple times
Does the award set an expectation that can never be met? Is the award more about a surprising up-and-coming cinderella team that the media and fans gets swept up in? Aren’t we basically penalizing consistency by not recognizing the brilliance of Bochy?
The Baseball Writers Association of America are the voters of all of the major awards in baseball. They vote for the award before the postseason begins, so the outcome of the World Series does not come into play. Perhaps a change to that rule needs to be made. Why give an award to someone who’s team doesn’t even make it to the dance? Let the play in the postseason count.
Bochy is a manager who is respected throughout baseball for his ability to manage a bullpen, and utilize his bench. His in-game decisions have changed games, series, and ultimately seasons. His ability to get production out of guys that were thought to be done (Pat Burrell, Edgar Renteria, Juan Uribe), or came out of nowhere (Cody Ross and Marco Scutaro), has been amazing. The clubhouse is close-knit, and that starts at the top. You never hear a bad word said about a clubhouse ran by Bochy.
A clubhouse is full of grown men who play a kids game with levels of stress that cannot be quantified. And the on-field decisions are all made by one individual. Luckily he is not underrated in San Francisco.
He is a future Hall of Fame manager, and will gladly take titles over awards. But he still is deserves them.