Hey, if Whitey Herzog's a Hall of Famer, then why not Cito Gaston?
Anyway, that's the question raised by the National Post's Jeremy Sandler:
- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston is at baseball's winter meetings to meet with team brass, attend the annual manager’s luncheon and sit down for his obligatory half-hour session in the media centre. And heading into what will be his last season as a big-league bench boss, it seems a fair time to ask whether he might one day be considered for baseball’s Hall of Fame.
This week’s election of former Cardinals (and Royals, Angels and Rangers manager) Whitey Herzog to baseball’s Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee provides an interesting comparable.
Herzog was the 1985 National League manager of the year and is 32nd in all-time wins with 1,281. In 18 seasons with the Cardinals, Royals, Angels and Rangers, he won one World Series, two more NL pennants and made the playoffs three other times.
With apologies to my (non-Quebecois) Canadian friends, Gaston's not yet in this conversation. Or shouldn't be. Not seriously, anyway.
Gaston is 372 wins behind Herzog. To catch Herzog, he'll have to manage for five more seasons. Is he going to do that? It would also help a lot if he managed a few great teams, and thus boost his .516 career winning percentage a few points (Herzog's sitting at .532 and isn't going to budge from there).
Sandler gets around Gaston's winning percentage by citing Casey Stengel and Connie Mack, but of course Stengel and Mack were both legends who, not coincidentally, won a dozen World Series between them. Sandler also mentions Wilbert Robinson, who was basically a .500 manager and never won a World Series. Which is fine, but ignores two salient facts: Robinson won a lot more games than Gaston has, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame, technically speaking, as a player (in truth, he went in because he was famous, first as a player, then a coach, and finally a manager for many years).
There's never been a manager remotely like Gaston elected. He's got one thing going for him: the two World Series. But there are other two-time World Series winners who haven't been elected. There's Danny Murtaugh, who won 1,115 games but didn't come close to being elected last weekend. And there's Ralph Houk, who won 1,619 games but wasn't even on the ballot this time around.
Essentially, to be considered a serious candidate -- to even merit a place on the ballot -- Gaston needs to manage for a number of additional seasons and win another World Series. Is he going to do that?