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Bill James: Davey Johnson's already in the Hall

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Patrick McDermott

A few weeks ago, I was wondering if Davey Johnson had already done enough to get into the Hall of Fame someday, and so I took a quick-and-dirty look at all the Hall of Fame managers. What I discovered was that every manager with at least 1,900 wins -- well, actually 1,896 if you want to get precise about it -- is either a Hall of Famer or will be ... with the exception of Gene Mauch, who lost more games than he won.

But that information doesn't really tell us anything about Johnson's candidacy, because he's still south of 1,300 wins and he just turned 70; he's probably not getting to 1,900 before calling it quits. As it happens, there are only nine Hall of Fame managers comparable to Johnson, which makes it fairly simple to evaluate his current qualifications. My conclusion?

Gun to my head? Yes, Davey Johnson does wind up in the Hall of Fame. But another good year or two might really help, and a second World Series would really help. Hey, why not? Seventy's the new 60.

Well, since I wrote that, Bill James has taken this to a completely different level. In a three-part (subscribers-only) series over at Bill James Online, he outlined -- as far as I know, for the first time anywhere -- exactly what makes a Hall of Fame manager. Essentially, Bill concludes that there are only five things that really matter:

a) Winning games,

b) Winning a high percentage of your games,

c) Winning championships,

d) Winning the World Series, and

e) Having teams that exceed reasonable expectations.

The first four you probably could have figured out for yourself, but the last one escaped me. It seems that managing a team to more wins than expected should be worth something, but I didn't figure it actually has been. Nice to know the voters do occasionally pay attention.

Anyway, Bill comes up with a points system (yes, I was shocked too): The baseline for a good candidate is 100 points. By that standard, Bill suggests (as I have) that Whitey Herzog didn't really meet the Hall of Fame standards, and that Wilbert Robinson was a silly sort of selection. Finally getting to the point of this little exercise, I present the salient point in Bill's concluding essay:

Of the 30 major league managers, I would say that there are 13 who would seem to have some credibility as Hall of Fame candidates, although there is only one who I think is a fully qualified Hall of Famer at this point. That one is Davey Johnson.

Johnson scores at 108 points in Bill's system. Among the current guys, there are three others who are actually in pretty good shape: Dusty Baker (94 points), Jim Leyland (93) and Mike Scioscia (91). Just spitballing here, but it would be really nifty if would add these numbers to their manager register. Otherwise it's going to be really hard to keep track of Baker's long march to Cooperstown...

For much more about Davey Johnson and his team, please visit SB Nation's Federal Baseball.