It’s easy to jump on the Terry Francona bandwagon today. The Indians manager just orchestrated one of the most impressive postseason wins you’ll see, becoming the first skipper to claim a playoff victory without any one pitcher going more than two innings.
But Francona could have managed three blowouts against the Blue Jays and it really wouldn’t have mattered.
The fact of the matter is that you are looking at a guy who should be one win away from certain entrance into the Hall of Fame. If Francona goes on to win the World Series, the debate is done.
Other than current Giants manager Bruce Bochy, there isn’t a manager who has won three World Series titles who isn’t in the Hall of Fame. But even without the third world championship, Francona should be in.
Let’s start with a modern day comparison, Whitey Herzog, who is in Cooperstown. The former was in the World Series three times (which would be the case with Francona), only won a single title, and currently has 100 fewer wins than the Cleveland manager.
Most everyone is believing Jim Leyland is going to be in the Hall of Fame, correct? Well, Leyland also made it to the World Series three times, winning just one. And, by the way, Francona now has three more wins than the former Pirates, Marlins and Tigers manager, also besting Leyland in winning percentage (.533-.506).
Really the only legitimate fly in the ointment when looking at Francona’s Hall of Fame candidacy resides in the case of Ralph Houk. The 20-year manager made it to three World Series, winning two. He also won 1,619 games, which is only behind Gene Mauch (no World Series appearances), Lou Pinella (1 WS appearance), Bochy (active), Leyland (not yet eligible) and Dusty Baker (active, WS appearances) among those who aren’t in the HOF.
Houk’s absence shouldn’t impact Francona’s candidacy, if for no other reason because the former Red Sox manager’s resume is robust even beyond the initial glance. For instance, he has now made the postseason seven times, claiming a .654 winning percentage. Among managers with at least 34 playoff wins, that is by far the best rate, with Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson coming in second with a .618 rate with his 34-win career in the postseason.
One more win. Then the debate should be done.