Joe Maddon’s Hall of Fame Chances

By Peter M. Gordon

Oct 7, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon (right) questions a call from umpire Mike Winters (left) during the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox in game three of the American League divisional series at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This week Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony LaRussa were elected to the Hall of Fame as managers. They are numbers 5,4, and 3 respectively on the all time managerial win list, and clearly deserved election. Torre probably should have been elected as a player, but at least he’s now where he belongs.

Many polls of players and sportswriters have listed the Rays’ own manager, Joe Maddon, as the best manager in baseball today. Maddon has one of the most impressive records in baseball since 2008, when the Rays won the AL pennant and played in the World Series. The Rays just finished their fourth straight year of over 90 wins. Is that enough to get Joe Maddon in the Hall of Fame? Probably not, but the good news is that he has plenty of time yet.

Maddon’s 704 wins ranks him 89th all-time on the managerial win list. His overall record of 704-644 gives him a lifetime .522 winning percentage. That’s better than many other managers in history, but still only moves him to 88th on the all time list. His contemporaries, Terry Francona and Ron Washington, rank ahead of him on that list. We know that mark jumps to .563 (20th all-time) if we remove Maddon’s 2006 and 2007 seasons managing the Devil Rays, but we will be able to simply ignore those two seasons when it is all said and done. Maddon has some work to do as he hopes to build up his Hall of Fame resume.

If the Rays can average 90 wins per year for the next five years that would give Maddon 1154 wins lifetime, which would put him in company with Frankie Frisch and Lou Boudreau, who are in the Hall of Fame as much for their playing as their managing, although they did each win a world series, and Tom Kelly and John MacNamara, who are no threat to join the Hall of Fame ranks. 10 more years averaging 90 wins would give Maddon about 1600 wins. Many managers who won that many, like Fred Clarke and Tom LaSorda, are in the Hall of Fame, but some are not. Ralph Houk, won 1617 games, and three pennants in his first three years as manager of the Yankees in the sixties. After that, he hung around and managed other good teams but couldn’t win a pennant. Hall of Fame voters judged him not quite up to Hall of Fame standards.

It appears that more wins and tremendous managerial skills  aren’t enough to get Maddon to the Hall. To impress voters, he will have to pilot more pennant winners and ideally, world champions. If he can win two or three pennants in a row with the Rays, especially with their payroll, he would begin to make a case for himself.  Rays fans would like nothing better than for the team to achieve the success on the field necessary to help Joe Maddon’s Hall of Fame bid. The Rays have had themselves some nice seasons but still do not have a championship and have not made the World Series since 2008. For both the sake of their franchise and to help Maddon’s chances of joining Cox, Torre, and LaRussa in the Hall, Rays fans have to hope that will start changing soon.