Last Friday, in the Star, Dave Perkins wrote that Cito belongs in the Hall of Fame. I really hadn't thought about it much, so let's take a look and have a poll.
There are only 20 people that have been elected to the Hall as manager, fewer than I figured there would be. The latest was Whitey Herzog, who just went in this year. Others elected since the turn of the century are Billy Southworth (led the Cardinals to the WS twice in the 1940's and got a pennant for the Boston Braves in 1948, 4 first place finishes), Dick Williams (managed 6 teams from 1967 to 1988, including the Expos, two WS, two pennants and 6 first place finishes) and Sparky Anderson (manager of the Big Red Machine in the 1970's and the Tigers from 1979 to 1995, three World Series, 2 pennants and 7 first place finishes).
How does Cito compare?
Cito has 889 wins as manager and is 65th in wins (number 64 on the list is the guy he replaced as manager of the Jays in 1989, Jimy Williams. Jimy has 910 wins, so Cito can't pass him, unless he comes back to manage again.). The Hall of Fame manager with the fewest wins is Billy Southworth with 1044 in 13 seasons, ranking 49th in wins. The record holder for wins as a manager is Connie Mack with 3731, but then he was also owner of the club, so there was no one who could fire him.
Cito falls some short of the win total of Hall of Fame members, but then that's not his best argument.
Cito has a .516 winning percentage, about the same as Buck Showalter, but then Buck's might drop now that he is with the Orioles. He is 91st among managers with 500+ games managed. Joe McCarthy, who managed the great Yankee teams in the 1920's and 30's holds the record with a .615 mark. Among ones with 550+ wins, Cito would be 91st on the list. There are HoF managers with poorer winning percentages, Casey Stengel (.508), Wilbert Robinson (.500), Bucky Harris (.493) and Connie Mack (.486).
World Series Wins
This is what people point to when they are making the case for Cito. You may not have heard, but Cito has two World Series wins.
There are 22 managers with 2 or more WS wins. Casey Stengle and Joe McCarthy lead the way with 7 each. 13 of the 22 are in the Hall, one of them, Frank Chance, was elected as a player. Of the others, 4 are still managing, Joe Torre (with 4), Terry Francona, Tony LaRussa and Cito.
I will list the records of the ones that have 2 WS, are retired and have not been elected to the Hall:
Tom Kelly 1140-1244, 16 years.
Bill Carrigan 489-500, 7 years.
Ralph Houk 1619-1531, 20 years.
Danny Murtaugh 1115-950, 15 years.
James Mutrie 658-419, 9 years.
Cito Gaston 889-835, 12 years.
So, of the group, a couple have clearly better records than Cito: Ralph Houk (won with the Yankees in 1961 and 62) and Danny Murtaugh (won with the Pirates in 1960 and 1971). James Mutrie had great winning % with the New York Giants and won his series in 1888 and 1889 but did not have the win total to get into the Hall. I love his nickname, Truthful Jim.
Cito has led teams to the playoffs 4 times. There are only 33 managers that have had 4 or more. Many of them are recent managers, since baseball has more playoff runs than they used to have. 14 of the Hall of Fame managers have 4 or more appearances.
I think the biggest obstacle to getting into the Hall for Cito is that there are a handful of possible Hall of Famers who will either be retiring at the same time or with in a year or two.
Tony LaRussa: 3rd all time in wins with 2632, a .535 W-L%, 2 World Series, 13 playoff appearances.
Bobby Cox: 4th in wins with 2500, .556 W%, 1 WS, 15 playoff appearances.
Joe Torre: 5th in wins with 2321, .538 W%, 4 WS, 15 playoff appearances.
Lou Pinella: 14th in wins with 1835, .517 W%, 1 WS, 7 PA.
Jim Leyland: 19th in wins with 1492, .497 W%, 1 WS, 5 PA.
And 3 that will be building on their numbers for few more years:
Mike Scioscia: 975 wins, .549, 1 WS, 6 PA.
Terry Francona: 932 wins, .527, 2 WS, 5 PA.
Buck Showalter: 911 wins, .516, 0 WS, 2 PA.
Cito Gaston: 889 wins, .516, 2 WS, 4 PA.
I think Cito is just off the wrong side of the border line. It would not be a bad thing if he was elected but with only 20 managers at the moment, if he goes in, there are at least half a dozen other guys that would have to go in too. Though may that would not be a bad thing, the standard for getting in as a manager seems pretty high, it could be lowered a little without it becoming a joke.
Perkins makes a big deal about Earl Weaver and Whitey Herzog being in with just one World Series win each. What he leaves out is that Earl won 1480 and Whitey won 1281 games and like them or not, they were both innovators, they both changed how the game was played. Earl started the trend to use the bunt less, platooned heavily, understood that On Base Percentage was important and, well, was one of a kind. Whitey saw how important speed was on the, new back then, Astroturf and was one of the first to use a closer in the way they do now.
Anyway, what do you think