Dusty Baker: Is Nats' Skipper a Future Hall of Famer?

Updated on March 25, 2019
John Winkelheimer profile image

John Winkelheimer has been an online sports writer for over three years. His articles often focus on athletes and team management.

Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker.
Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker. | Source

No, he hasn't won a World Series yet. And he is sometimes ridiculed for his unusual managerial style and for going against the saberstat-driven grain.

But Dusty Baker is still a future Hall of Famer. The Washington Nationals' skipper has compiled his way to greatness, winning over 1,800 games for four teams over 22 seasons.

That raw win total itself is astonishing -- only 16 of the nearly 700 men to ever captain a team have won that many games, and twelve of them are in the Hall of Fame. The other three not named Mr. Baker have their reasons for exclusion too; Bruce Bochy is still active and is a sure-fire Cooperstowner when he retires, Gene Mauch finished with a losing record and only two first place finishes, and Lou Piniella is biding his time until eventual enshrinement, himself a Dusty Baker-lite (but with a World Series win under his belt).

And Baker, a three-time Manager of the Year recipient, is quickly moving up the all-time rankings—he is 14th right now, and with a good 2018 will surpass the legendary Casey Stengel for 11th place.

But being around a long enough time to reach high statistical totals is not, on its own, enough to establish greatness—look, for example, at Gene Mauch. A manager leading a bunch of winning, but mediocre, third-place teams is far different than one with a pedigree of first-place excellence.

With six first-place finishes, and likely a seventh in 2017, Baker has that pedigree. He has led each team he's managed to at least one finish atop the division, and skippered clubs to 90 or more wins—the hallmark of a worthwhile season—nine times, with number ten on the way this year. In contast, Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson spent 26 years managing, and he had only seven first-place finishes.

Of course, regular season performance is all well-and-good, but its the postseason where it counts. Well, Dusty Baker has led eight clubs to the postseason and won over 20 games there. That's a milestone reached by only 25 other skippers—and nearly three-quarters of the inactive managers among those ranks are in the Hall.

Then there's the elephant in the room—the lack of World Series rings. Baker has never led a squad to a championship victory, and that is oft-blamed on incompetence or lack of acumen or mismanagement of talent.

But managerial prowess does not dissipate suddenly in the playoffs. Someone without a great baseball mind could not lead so many teams to not just winning seasons, but first place finishes and postseason appearances. Chalk the lack of championships up to rotten luck, perhaps, but not managerial incompetence.

And his playing career deserves mention, if one wishes to make a hybrid case for Baker—he was a very good player and a is a very good manager, one might say, and that rare combination itself establishes greatness.

Baker won multiple Silver Sluggers and earned numerous All-Star selections. And he collected a Gold Glove and won the National League Championship Series MVP honor in 1977. He combined power and speed to reach nearly 2,000 hits and over 1,000 RBI in a career that spanned two decades. He was a stalwart on the field as well as one directing it.

Baker doesn't have the skein of World Series victories of a Joe Torre or the standout run of 14-straight divisional titles of a Bobby Cox, but he does stand out. A combination of consistent positive output punctuated by multiple flashes of sheer greatness puts him among a unique pantheon of baseball managers.

And it will put him in the Hall of Fame.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 John Winkelheimer


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • lions44 profile image

        CJ Kelly 

        2 years ago from Auburn, WA

        Not having a World Series victory (although he has one as a Dodger in '81) is a strike against him, in my opinion. Gene Mauch had 1900 wins, would you put him in the HoF?

        Both Scioscia and Francona have better winning percentages and rings.

        I'm not necessarily against putting him in there, he's a good baseball man and well liked. But I tend to lean towards quality over quantity when it comes to Hall of Fame candidates.

      • Angel Guzman profile image

        Angel Guzman 

        2 years ago from Joliet, Illinois

        Sure, why the hell not. The man has done a great job on the field playing and managing. I will be forever grateful his work in Chicago and sad it ended in such a bad note. Hall of Fame!


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, howtheyplay.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://howtheyplay.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)