Davey Johnson is the most deserving manager on Hall of Fame ballot

By Dan Holmes ♦ November 19, 2018

Earlier this month, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced the ten names on the Today’s Game Ballot. A group of 16 will vote on the ballot and results will be announced January 22, 2019. Twelve votes are needed to be elected.

The ballot includes six players, one owner, and three managers. The managers on the ballot are Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, and Lou Piniella.

Let’s look at the record of each of the three managers:

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Winning Percentage
Davey Johnson … 1372-1071 .562
Charlie Manuel … 1000-826 .548
Lou Piniella … 1835-1713 .517
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Wins Above .500
Davey Johnson … 301
Charlie Manuel … 174
Lou Piniella … 122
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Postseason
Davey Johnson … 1 World Series, 1 Pennant, 6 Division titles
Charlie Manuel … 1 World Series, 2 Pennants, 6 Division titles
Lou Piniella … 1 World Series, 1 Pennant, 6 Division titles

Johnson has the highest winning percentage and despite managing more than 1,000 fewer games than Piniella, he also finished more games over .500 for his career.

The three managers on the Hall of Fame ballot have similar postseason accomplishments, all of them won a single World Series title and six division titles. Manuel is the only one to win two pennants, and he also has the best postseason winning percentage of the three.

Now let’s compare Johnson to the greatest managers in baseball history.

Most Games Above .500

  1. John McGraw … 815
  2. Joe McCarthy … 792
  3. Bobby Cox … 503
  4. Walter Alston … 427
  5. Fred Clarke … 421
  6. Earl Weaver … 420
  7. Al Lopez … 406
  8. Tony La Russa … 363
  9. Sparky Anderson … 360
  10. Billy Southworth … 340
  11. Joe Torre … 329
  12. Davey Johnson … 301
  13. Leo Durocher … 299
  14. Frank Chance … 298
  15. Miller Huggins … 279
  16. Billy Martin … 240
  17. Terry Francona … 234
  18. Dusty Baker … 227
  19. Mike Scioscia … 222
  20. Charlie Grimm … 220

The point of ranking managers by games above .500 is to measure success beyond winning percentage. A manager can have a higher winning percentage on fewer games, but games above .500 shows us successful managers who managed a significant time.

Among the managers on that list, only Al Lopez and Billy Martin managed fewer games than Johnson, yet he ranks twelfth all-time among managers since 1900.

Highest Winning Percentage, 2,000 or more games

  1. Joe McCarthy … .615
  2. John McGraw … .586
  3. Al Lopez … .584
  4. Earl Weaver … .583
  5. Fred Clarke … .576
  6. Davey Johnson … 562
  7. Walter Alston … 558
  8. Bobby Cox … 556
  9. Miller Huggins … 555
  10. Billy Martin … .553
  11. Charlie Grimm … 547
  12. Sparky Anderson … .545
  13. Hughie Jennings … .543
  14. Joe Maddon … .541
  15. Leo Durocher … .540
  16. Terry Francona … .540
  17. Joe Cronin … .540
  18. Danny Murtaugh … .540
  19. Joe Torre … .538
  20. Tony La Russa … .536

Of the managers on both of these lists, only three are not in the Hall of Fame: Billy Martin, Terry Francona, and Davey Johnson. And Johnson is more games above .500 and has a higher career winning percentage than Martin and Francona.

Johnson won 56% of his games, a rate that ranks in 10th all-time among managers with at least 1,000 victories, sixth among those who managed a minimum of 2.000 games. His winning percentage is higher than that of Hall of Fame managers Walter Alston, Sparky Anderson, and Tommy Lasorda. It’s higher than that of Bobby Cox.

Every manager in the top ten in winning percentage is in the Hall of Fame other than Johnson and Billy Martin. Johnson ranking sixth all-time in winning percentage is his best argument for enshrinement. He won, and he won a lot. Johnson managed 13 full seasons and in more than half of them (seven) he won 90 or more games. He’s one of only five managers to lead as many as three franchises to 90 wins in a season.

Most Teams Led to the Postseason

  1. Billy Martin … 4 (Twins, Tigers, Yankees, A’s)
    Davey Johnson … 4 (Mets, Reds, Orioles, Nationals)
    Dusty Baker … 4 (Giants, Cubs, Reds, Nationals)
  2. Bill McKechnie … 3 (Pirates, Cardinals, Reds)
    Dick Williams … 3 (Red Sox, A’s, Padres)
    Buck Showalter … 3 (Yankees, Diamondbacks, Orioles)
    Lou Piniella … 3 (Reds, Mariners, Cubs)

Among the seven managers who led three or more teams to the postseason, Davey Johnson has the highest career winning percentage.

Johnson posted winning records with five different franchises. He won the Manager of the Year Award twice and 100 games twice. In his 13 full seasons he finished first or second 12 times and had a winning record in 12 of them.

If the Hall of Fame voters are going to elect a manager in 2019, the obvious choice, the best candidate, is Davey Johnson.


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