Sep. 26, 2016
Is Terry Francona worthy of the Hall of Fame?
The MLB Hall of Fame is an exclusive club for the best of the best baseball players. It is even more exclusive for those who manage the players. Since it was established in 1936, there have only been 23 managers who have been inducted. In the near future, there will certainly be more managers that will join the select few. If the Cleveland Indians win tonight, Terry Francona will be a three-time World Series champion. Does Francona deserve a seat once he retires?
Let’s take a look at Francona’s current resume. Francona managed the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997 to 2000, the Boston Red Sox from 2004 to 2011, and has been managing the Cleveland Indians since 2013.
During his 16-year managerial career, Francona has a record of 1381-1209 which comes out to a .533 winning percentage. Throughout those 16 years, teams Francona has managed have reached the playoffs seven times. His teams have reached the World Series three times, winning twice with the Rex Sox in 2004 and 2007. In addition, the Red Sox did not lose a game in either World Series.
How does he stack up against other managers in the Hall of Fame? Here is the list of every manager in the Hall of Fame and some of their stats:
In terms of longevity, Francona would be close to the very bottom in years managing at the moment. Only Billy Southworth, who managed for 13 years, has managed fewer years than Francona (15) and has been elected into the Hall of Fame. However, Francona is only 57 and all indications point to him continuing to manage for many more years. His current winning percentage fits right in the middle of other managers winning percentage who are in the Hall of Fame. Francona’s current .533 winning percentage would put him 15th all-time in winning percentage of managers in the Hall of Fame. So just looking at years managed and winning percentage, neither are going currently keep him out.
What is going to help his case even more are his World Series titles. As of writing this article, Francona has two World Series championships with a possible third if the Indians win tonight.
Leo Durocher, Whitey Herzog, Bobby Cox, and Earl Weaver all are in the Hall of Fame and only have one World Series title apiece. However, even two World Series titles is not a for-sure lock. Danny Murtaugh, Cito Gaston, Tom Kelly, and Ralph Houk were all managers who won two World Series and are not in the Hall of Fame. However, Francona has more wins than all of them besides Houk, but Francona has the higher winning percentage at .533 compared to Houk’s .514
Tonight could make Francona’s potential induction into the Hall of Fame a lock. If the Indians win Game 7 against the Chicago Cubs, Francona will be in an elite club of managers with at least three World Series championships. Connie Mack, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Joe Torre, Walter Alston, John McGraw, Sparky Anderson, Miller Huggins, and Tony La Russa are the only managers with three or more World Series championships.
No other retired manager in the history of MLB has won three World Series championships and is not in the Hall of Fame.
What will also help is that one of Francona’s World Series championships was the one in 2004 as his first year as manager with the Red Sox to break the 85-year curse in Boston. It was no ordinary World Series, but one that will be remembered for a very long time.
Is Francona worthy of the Hall of Fame at this moment? Probably. It’s not a lock, but there is nothing about his resume that will disqualify him. The only real detriment is how many years he’s managed, but it's safe to assume that will not be a problem when he retires.
Within 24 hours, the question about Francona’s Hall of Fame worthiness may not be a question. If Francona wins his third World Series championship tonight, the Hall of Fame might as well start designing his plaque right now.