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MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Big league managerial ranks lacking hurlers

Fewer former pitchers have been given a chance to manage than any other position

Big league managerial ranks lacking hurlers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Former pitchers get a bad rap.

There is this myth that they are not as successful as other players when it comes to filling out a lineup card. Truth is, it's more about getting an opportunity than anything else for former pitchers.

Fewer former big league pitchers have been given a chance to manage than any other position. There have been 48 former big league pitchers given a chance to manage, including current managers John Farrell in Boston and Bud Black in San Diego, according to Stats LLC.

By contrast, there have been 113 former catchers, 104 former outfielders, 75 former shortstops, 72 former second basemen, 57 former first basemen, 56 former third basemen and 124 players who never appeared in a big league game.

All four managers hired in the offseason are getting their first big league opportunity -- former third baseman Matt Williams with the Nationals, former second baseman Rick Renteria with the Cubs, former catcher Ausmus with the Tigers, and Bryan Price, who never played in the big leagues, with the Reds.

What does their playing background have to do with projecting the chances of their success as managers? Virtually nothing.

The 48 former big league pitchers who have managed in the big leagues have a .497 composite winning percentage, which is higher than the 75 shortstops (.495) and the 113 catchers (.492), although the common perception is catchers are best qualified to manage because they ran the game behind the plate.

The most successful group has been the first basemen, who have a combined .513 winning percentage, followed by third basemen (.506), second basemen (.504), outfielders (.501) and managers who never played in the big leagues (.500).

Change of scenery

Farrell is the perfect example of the importance of an opportunity. He made his managerial debut with Toronto and was a combined 154-170 over two years. The Jays were 81-81 in Farrell's debut season in 2011 and 73-89 in '12. Hired by the Red Sox, for whom he had been a pitching coach, Farrell led Boston to the American League East title then the World Series against St. Louis, managed by former catcher Mike Matheny. The Red Sox won the Fall Classic in six games.

It was the sixth World Series won by a former big league pitcher. Tommy Lasorda led the Dodgers to World Series championships in 1981 and '88. Eddie Dyer led St. Louis to a World Series championship in 1946, Bob Lemon led the Yankees to the title in '78 and Dallas Green led the Phillies to the title in '80.

Lemon was fired 65 games into the 1979 season with the Yanks. He also was fired 74 games into the 1978 season by the Chicago White Sox, having won the AL Manager of the Year Award in 1977 when the White Sox won 90 games.

"I took a lot of dumb pills over the winter," the Hall of Fame right-hander said of his two in-season dismissals.

Larry Dierker never got a second chance to manage in the big leagues, even though in five years with Houston, he took the Astros to the postseason four times.

Only three former big league pitchers rate among the top 100 in games managed -- Lasorda, 19th, 3,040 games; Clark Griffith, 22nd, 2,918 games; and Roger Craig, 84th, 1,475 games.

On the job

Current big league managers include:

Nine former big league catchers: Joe Girardi, Yankees; John Gibbons, Blue Jays; Mike Redmond, Marlins; Matheny, Cardinals; Bruce Bochy, Giants; Mike Scioscia, Angels; Bob Melvin, A's; Ned Yost, Royals; and Brad Ausmus, Tigers.

Five players who never appeared in a big league game: Joe Maddon, Rays; Fredi Gonzalez, Braves; Terry Collins, Mets; Price, Reds; and Buck Showalter, Orioles.

Five former outfielders: Clint Hurdle, Pirates; Kirk Gibson, D-backs; Bo Porter, Astros; Ron Roenicke, Brewers; and Lloyd McClendon, Mariners.

Three former shortstops: Walt Weiss, Rockies; Ron Washington, Rangers; and Ron Gardenhire, Twins.

Two former first basemen: Don Mattingly, Dodgers; and Terry Francona, Indians.

Two former second basemen: Ryne Sandberg, Phils; and Renteria, Cubs.

Two former third basemen: Robin Ventura, White Sox; and Williams, Nats.

And two former pitchers: Black, Padres; and Farrell, Red Sox.

Honored

Since the Baseball Writers' Association of America began handing out a Manager of the Year Award in 1983, 14 former catchers have won the award, including Joe Torre of the Yankees and Johnny Oates of the Rangers, who shared the AL honor in 1996. Torre (1996, '98), Scioscia with the Angels (2002 and '09), and Melvin with the D-backs (2007) and A's ('12) have won two Manager of the Year Awards each.

The award has gone to an outfielder 11 times; shortstop 10 times; player with no big league experience 11 times; pitcher, first baseman and second baseman four times each; and third baseman four times.

Bobby Cox is the only third baseman to win the award, and he did it in 1985, '91, 2004 and '05. Tony La Russa, a former shortstop, won the award four times with three teams: the White Sox in 1983, A's in '88 and '92, and Cards in 2002.

Win some, lose some

Joe McCarthy, who never played in the big leagues, had a .615 winning percentage, tops those who managed 1,000 or more games since 1901, when the current Major Leagues were created. Outfielder Bill Southworth ranks second at .597, followed by first baseman Frank Chance at .593, third baseman John McGraw at .586 and catcher Al Lopez at .584.

Three of the worst winning records among managers who managed at least 1,000 games belong to catchers. Catcher Jimmie Wilson (.401) ranks last, followed by third baseman Buddy Bell second (.418), outfielder Hugh Duffy and catcher Darrell Johnson are tied for third (.444), and catcher Jim Riggleman is fifth (.445).

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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