Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lou Piniella's Resume Is Impressive In Its Bredth and Scope

Yesterday’s announcement that Lou Piniella was set to retire was a good reminder that, geez, Sweet Lou has been around for a long time. Piniella debuted on a 1964 Orioles team that had Harvey Haddix on it, for God’s sake. You can get from Lou Piniella to Cap Anson in just six players using’s Oracle feature (though, to be fair, that’s true of anyone who played with Phil Niekro, the Robert DeNiro of Six Degrees of Cap Anson).

After a brief exposure to the Bigs in ’64, Piniella hung around for another 17 seasons before he retired in 1984, and by 1986 he was managing his Yankees. Aside from years off in 1989 and 2006, Lou has been at the helm of a ballclub in every year, and currently sits 14th all time in managerial wins. But that success only tells part of the story, as Piniella was a leading figure on some excellent Yankee teams in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. Indeed, Lou Piniella has been the rare individual who has been excellent as both a player and a manager, he must have gotten to celebrate on the field a number of times after his teams’ wins.

How many times? Well, these are the kinds of things The Common Man wonders about, and thanks God he has to help answer. As near as The Common Man can tell, Lou Piniella’s teams have won 3369 games in his careers as a player and a manager. And while Piniella’s contributions as a skipper sandwich him between Bill McKechnie and Ralph Houk, if we count all of the wins he’s had to sit through, Lou leaps into the Top 4. Consider the following chart*:

NamePlaying WinsManagerial WinsTotal Wins
Connie Mack48037194199
Joe Torre148522463731
John McGraw69427633457
Lou Piniella154318263369
Tony LaRussa51026043114
Casey Stengel109619053001

The next tier of players/managers includes Leo Durocher (2953), Dusty Baker (2916), and Al Lopez (2914), each of whom have more than 2900 wins under their belts. They’re followed by Bill McKechnie (2790), Frank Robinson (2721), Jimmy Dykes (2638), Bobby Cox (2630), Wilbert Robertson (2625), and Dick Williams (2624). Charlie Grimm and Felipe Alou each also top 2500 total wins.

First of all, it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that Connie Mack still tops this list. Mack has more than a thousand more victories than any other manager, which will happen when you also own the team for more than 50 years. It’s some nice job security. Plus, Mack had an 11 year playing career in the 19th century for the old Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and in the Players League to add to his total. McGraw also had a very successful playing career that basically ended when he was just 29 years old, to help bolster his total. But Piniella and Torre provide perhaps the most balanced resumes on the list, ranking 3rd and 5th in player victories respectively, allowing them to vault over some of their more one-dimensional colleagues. Robinson had the most wins in his playing career among managers on this list, with 1656. Bobby Cox, whose ’68 and ’69 Yankees won just 163 games in his two seasons as a 3B, has the fewest.

Some have speculated on Lou's chances for making the Hall of Fame, once his career ends. It seems awfully likely. As Rob pointed out yesterday, everyone above him on the all time managerial wins list will have made the HOF except Gene Mauch. And several below him are also in. But even if you doubt his managerial resume, 1826 wins, one World Championship, and extended success with non-Tampa teams, his overall body of work is incredibly impressive, and should qualify Lou for a nice bronze plaque that highlights all of his accomplishments in the game.

*(A couple notes about The Common Man’s methodology: First, in some cases these numbers are estimates, as players were traded in midseason and we don’t have accurate data to determine exact win totals. As this is an ultimately meaningless, but fun, exercise, just take the above numbers with that grain of salt. Also, TCM has accounted for seasons in which the above gentlemen were Player/Managers to avoid double-counting wins.)

1 comment:

steve said...

Very impressive content and i want to look forward for it.