San Diego manager Bud Black won his 600th game as a manager on Sunday, in the Padres’ 7-4 win over the Diamondbacks.
The 600 wins places Black in second place on the all-time Padres victories list for managers, behind only Bruce Bochy’s 951 wins. Bochy’s win total was amassed over 12 years. Black is currently in his eighth year as the San Diego skipper.
Black’s overall record is 600-654, a .475 winning percentage. Bochy’s record with San Diego was 951-975, a winning percentage of .494.
So what does this mean? Was Bochy better than Black?
Based on the comparison to Bochy on only won-loss record, Black comes out on the short end, but not by much. Bochy’s average season when managing the Padres was 80-82. Black’s average season has been 77-85, a difference of three games in the standings.
Bochy did manage four teams into the postseason, a feat that Black has yet to accomplish.
But Bochy had better players to work with. Significantly better. In 1996, Bochy’s 91-71 division winners included Tony Gwynn (.353 BA), Ken Caminiti (MVP – .326, 40 HR, 130 RBI), Steve Finley (.298, 30, 95, with 22 steals), and Rickey Henderson (37 SB). The next year, they added Greg Vaughn. Bochy had the luxury of plugging Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn and his .320+ average into his lineup for the first six years of his career, although, to be fair, Gwynn didn’t play much in his final two years.
The team added Kevin Brown in 1998, when he was the top pitcher in the National League, and the Padres went to the World Series. When the team stopped spending money, Bochy stopped winning. In 2002 and 2003, his teams won 66 and 64 games. Perhaps Bochy’s best year as a manager came in 2004, when he led the team to a 87-75 record led by Phil Nevin, Ryan Klesko, Sean Burroughs, Mark Loretta, Khalil Greene, and Brian Giles, with a pitching staff where Jake Peavy was the only starter with an ERA under 3.70. That’s a damn good record with that team.
Black, on the other hand, has had very little to work with in the way of offense in his 8 years. There have been no Tony Gwynns, no Greg Vaughns, no Steve Finleys. Actually, he did have a Tony Gwynn. Just the wrong one.
It could be argued that Adrian Gonzalez is the only real hitter Black has ever had on his team. His left fielder in 2007 was Terrmel Sledge. He has had Marcus Giles, Tadahito Iguchi, Orlando Hudson, and Logan Forsyth at second base. His CF in 2008 was Jody Gerut. Nick Hundley was his best catcher for a number of years. His first basemen have included Jesus Guzman and Yonder Alonso. He had to work with a platoon in right field – for four years.
There has been a lot of call for Black to be fired this season. But would a different manager win with a lineup of Cabrera, Smith, Headley, Gyorko, Venable, Alonso, Grandal, and Maybin? There’s a very real chance that several of those players will be out of baseball three years from now, and none of them are over 31. If you saw that Cabrera, Headley, Alonso, Grandal, Venable and Maybin were cut from whatever team they’re playing for in 2016, would you really be that surprised?
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Let’s let A.J. Preller get Black some players to work with. And let’s see how many more wins he can get. If he wins 80 games with this pitching staff and a league average offense, I’ll be the first one to yell “Fire him!” But I don’t think that will happen. I’ll bet if you give him some hitters and another four years, he ends up with more wins than Bochy.