The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced on Monday that former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is included on Today's Game Era Veteran's Committee ballot. Manuel managed the Cleveland Indians from 2000-2002 and the Phillies from 2005-2013 and compiled a 1,000-826 (.548) record. He was 780-636 (.551) with the Phillies where he won five straight division titles between 2007-2011, won two National League pennants in 2008 and 2009, and won the World Series in 2008. His .548 winning percentage is 16th among managers with at least 1,000 career managerial victories.
Per the Hall of Fame, "the Today's Game Era is one of four Eras Committees — along with Modern Baseball, Golden Days and Early Baseball — that provide an avenue outside voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America for Hall of Fame consideration to managers, umpires and executives, as well as players retired for more than 15 seasons. Specifically, the Today's Game Committee encompasses candidates who made the most indelible contributions to baseball from 1988 to the present."
Other candidates who join Manuel on the ballot are Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson (manager), Lou Piniella (manager), Lee Smith and George Steinbrenner (owner).
The managerial candidates are interesting and similar to each other in that they do not top the managerial wins list 1988-present. Manuel, Johnson and Piniella each guided teams to World Series titles, but Johnson did so prior to the Today's Game Committee's focus period. Manuel is the only manager on this year's ballot to have led teams to multiple World Series appearances and the only candidate to have posted a winning record in the postseason. Unlike Johnson and Piniella, Manuel was never named Manager of the Year .
In recent years, the Veteran's Committee has elected multiple candidates to the Hall of Fame. Since 2008, the committee has elected 20 persons to the Hall of Fame compared to 23 inductees via the BBWAA ballot. In that span, the Veteran's Committee has elected six managers: Billy Southworth (2008), Dick Williams (2008), Whitey Herzog (2010), Bobby Cox (2014), Tony La Russa (2014), and Joe Torre (2014). Every manager that has been inducted since 2008 has more managerial wins than Charlie Manuel, as do Johnson and Piniella.
The question is does Manuel have a legitimate chance at induction to the Hall of Fame when the committee announces its results in January? I find it highly unlikely. The most likely candidate to be inducted next year is George Steinbrenner for his role in resurrecting the Yankees franchise to prominence in the late 1970s and again in the 1990s. Beyond Steinbrenner, the likelihood for anyone else to be inducted is slim. What bodes well for Manuel is that the Hall of Fame wants a greater presence from the Today's Game era which is why that committee votes more regularly than any of the other four committees. It is without question, however, that the era's best managers were all inducted in 2014 (Cox, La Russa, and Torre). A trend is also clear: since 2008, only six of the 20 candidates inducted via the Veteran's Committee were voted in as players. The pendulum may begin to swing towards the players this year and/or in future years.
As an aside, it will be interesting to see how Will Clark fares this year because he is one of the players most comparable to Chase Utley.