Former catchers excel in managerial roles
SAN FRANCISCO -- Maybe the catching gear should be called the Tools of Intelligence, not the Tools of Ignorance.All four managers in the LCS are former catchers -- Bruce Bochy of San Francisco, Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees, Jim Leyland of Detroit and Mike Matheny of St. Louis. Girardi is the only one of the four who was an All-Star, and his selection in 2000 was as an injury replacement, after several other players turned down the replacement spot because they had other plans for the All-Star break.
Matheny was a four-time Gold Glove winner. Bochy spent all or parts of nine seasons in the big leagues with Houston, the New York Mets and San Diego, appearing in 358 games, 203 of which he started. Leyland's seven-year playing career was spent in the Minor Leagues, never getting above the Double-A level.There long has been an assumption that catchers make good managers because they are involved in both the offensive and pitching facets of the game. Since the addition of the Wild Card, and the creation of a third round in the postseason, a catcher has managed at least two of the four LCS teams 10 times.
This season is the first time that all four LCS managers were catchers. Catchers have managed three of the four teams twice. In 2009, Girardi managed the Yankees, Joe Torre the Los Angeles Dodgers and Mike Scioscia the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 2003, Torre managed the Yankees, Grady Little Boston, and Leyland the Marlins. There were two catchers managing LCS teams in 2010, 2008, 2007, 2003, 2001, 1999 and 1998. And in 2007, one of the non-catchers was Clint Hurdle with Colorado. Hurdle, primarily a first baseman and right fielder in his big league career, did learn to catch in the later years of his playing career, and did appear behind the plate in 22 big league games -- 15 as a starter. He also caught 32 games in the Minors. Only once has no catcher been among the four LCS managers, and that was in 1995, the first year of the expanded playoffs. Former first baseman Mike Hargrove managed Cleveland, former second baseman Davey Johnson managed Cincinnati, former outfielder Lou Piniella managed Seattle, and former third baseman Bobby Cox managed Atlanta. A total of 12 former catchers have managed 31 different teams in the LCS in the 18 years of the expanded playoffs. Torre managed in 10 with the Yankees and the Dodgers. Leyland is managing in his fourth, and Bochy and Girardi their third. Matheny is managing for the first time, at any level. Other former catchers to manage in the LCS since 1995 are Scioscia, three; Little, Joe Maddon, Eric Wedge, Bob Melvin, Bob Brenly and Jack McKeon, once each. There has not been a pitcher manage an LCS team in the past 18 years, but there have been three first basemen (a total of nine times), two third basemen (seven times), six outfielders (nine times), and six middle infielders (16 times). Torre has managed the most (10) LCS since 1995, followed by Tony La Russa, a former middle infielder, five times, and Terry Francona and Leyland, four times each. The last time a former pitcher managed in the LCS was in 1989 when Roger Craig managed San Francisco to the NL pennant. Craig also managed the Giants in 1987, when they lost to St. Louis in the NLCS. Tommy Lasorda, who managed the Dodgers to the World Series championship in 1988, is the all-time leader among former pitchers in all-time postseason appearances with seven, the final one coming in 1988.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.