I pulled for the Detroit Tigers during the recent ALCS, mainly because the Boston Red Sox, has become, like the Yankees, a team you root against. They keep winning like a machine, and that is irritating. But I also like Jim Leyland, former Tigers manager. He is a baseball man, the type that lives and breathes baseball. Crusty in a lovable curmudgeonly way at times, he never publicly threw his players under the bus.
But will he become a Hall of Fame manger? After eleven years with the Pittsburgh Pirates and three divisional titles, he won his only World Series in 1997, the first of two seasons with the Florida Marlins. In his eight Tiger years he won two pennants and three straight division titles. Not to bad.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Leyland when he became the Tigers manager in 2006. The Tigers signed him as a catcher in 1963, spending seven seasons in their minor league system, batting a woeful .222. He managed in the Tigers minor league system from 1971-1981, taking his teams to the post season six times and winning three league championships. He won Manager of the Year in 1977 an 1978 in the Florida State League and in 1979 won the award in the American Association.
Leyland is and has been a Tiger for most of his baseball career.
He certainly has the respect of Hall of Fame voters, has won three pennants, and a World Series, but there is one drawback, if the voters consider managerial numbers. In his 22 years as manager-another plus for the Hall- he won 1769 and lost 1728. That comes out to a .506 winning percentage, barely over .500.
One manager has a winning percentage of .486. That is Connie Mack who owned and managed the Philadelphia Phillies for 53 years but head some great pennant winning teams in the days of yore. Bucky Harris managed 29 years, mostly for the Washington Senators, and won two World Series titles, but had a .493 percentage. Beloved Yankee manager Casey Stengel‘s winning percentage was .508 and Wilbert Robinson was .500.
So does Jim Leyland belong in the Hall? I am sure they are preparing his plaque as we speak.