added 11/25/2004 by Trevor Williams
In fourteen seasons Bagwell and Biggio have played together, the Astros have seen five managers. Astros managers have been hired for different reasons such as being able to relate to players or providing a spark in the clubhouse. How were these men able to become managers? All five of these Astros managers were once former players. Art Howe played second and third. Terry Collins was a minor league shortstop. Larry Dierker was a pitcher. Jimy Williams was a shortstop. Phil Garner played second and third.
Does a manager’s former playing position influence success? Looking at all MLB managers of the 2003 and 2004 season, their former playing positions are:
C 10 1B 3 2B/Infield 5 SS 5 3B 3 OF 8 Minor League C 3 Minor League 1B 1 No Experience 1
Position of 2003-2004 Playoff Managers:
C 2 1B 1 2B/Infield 2 SS 1 3B 2 OF 3 Minor League C 2
Position of 1995-2004 World Series Winners:
C 3 1B 1 3B 1 Minor League C 2
The data shows that catchers are the most likely position to end up managing. Catchers have experience with every aspect of the game. Besides hitting and fielding, catchers “quarterback” the infield. They call pitch selection and bunt defenses. Catchers have to anticipate whether a runner will steal. Catchers work with pitchers and can tell when something is wrong with a pitcher’s mechanics. They are usually the only non-pitchers who become pitching coaches.
While a mix of infielders and outfielders can make the playoffs, catchers are more likely to win the World Series. Their experience can payoff in crucial playoff situations. When Bobby Cox, a former third baseman won the World Series, he won it against Mike Hargrove, a former first baseman. When Terry Francona, a former first baseman, won the World Series, he defeated Tony LaRussa, a former second baseman. Since 1995 former catchers that have made it to the World Series have always won.
In the 2003 and 2004 seasons, not a single manager was a pitcher. Pitchers usually know only one thing – how to pitch. As pitchers advance in their careers into college baseball and the minors, pitchers aren’t exposed to others areas of the games. As a result, they don’t develop the managerial skills enjoyed by catchers. Former Astros manager Larry Dierker however was able to break the mold. Former pitcher Bud Black could be a possible major league manager in the future.
In Astros history, the team has never hired a former catcher. There have been infielders, outfielders, and pitchers. However with the current trends showing one-third of managers as former catchers and recent World Series rings being won by catchers more than any other position, don’t be surprised when the time comes, the next manager after Phil Garner isn't a former catcher.
2003-2004 Managers and their Positions:
Team Manager Position Anaheim Angels Mike Scioscia C Arizona Diamondbacks Bob Brenly C Arizona Diamondbacks Al Pedrique SS Atlanta Braves Bobby Cox 3B Baltimore Orioles Mike Hargrove 1B Baltimore Orioles Lee Mazzilli OF Boston Red Sox Grady Little Minor League C Boston Red Sox Terry Francona 1B Chicago Cubs Dusty Baker OF Chicago White Sox Jerry Manuel 2B/SS Chicago White Sox Ozzie Guillen SS Cincinnati Reds Bob Boone C Cincinnati Reds Ray Knight 3B Cincinnati Reds Dave Miley Minor League C Cleveland Indians Eric Wedge C/DH Colorado Rockies Clint Hurdle OF Detroit Tigers Alan Trammell SS Florida Marlins Jack McKeon Minor League C Houston Astros Jimy Williams 2B/SS Houston Astros Phil Garner 2B/3B Kansas City Royals Tony Pena C Los Angeles Dodgers Jim Tracy OF Milwaukee Brewers Ned Yost C Minnesota Twins Ron Gardenhire SS Montreal Expos Frank Robinson OF New York Mets Art Howe 2B/3B New York Yankees Joe Torre C/1B/3B Oakland Athletics Ken Macha 3B Philadelphia Phillies Larry Bowa SS Philadelphia Phillies Gary Varsho OF Pittsburgh Pirates Lloyd McClendon 1B/OF San Diego Padres Bruce Bochy C San Francisco Giants Felipe Alou OF Seattle Mariners Bob Melvin C St. Louis Cardinals Tony LaRussa 2B Tampa Bay Devil Rays Lou Piniella OF Texas Rangers Buck Showalter Minor League 1B Toronto Blue Jays Carlos Tosca None* Toronto Blue Jays John Gibbons C
*According to Rob Neyer of ESPN, Carlos Tosca is only the sixth manager since 1900 to have no professional baseball experience as a player. Another manager to have no experience as a player – Ted Turner. You can view Neyer’s article here: http://espn.go.com/mlb/columns/neyer_rob/1390462.html