Yesterday, we heard that the Rockies will name Bud Black the team’s new manager. Here’s where he fits in the history of Rockies’ managers.
Black will become the seventh manager in team history, joining Don Baylor, Jim Leyland, Buddy Bell, Clint Hurdle, Jim Tracy, and the recently departed Walt Weiss. Of those managers, Leyland had the shortest tenure at just one season, and Hurdle had the longest with seven-plus seasons as Rockies manager. No manager in Rockies history has wrapped up his tenure with the team with a winning record. Tracy’s .488 win percentage in his 602 games managed is the best, while Weiss’s .437 win percentage in 648 games is the worst.
The hiring of Black breaks long term trend in team internal hiring practices. The Rockies’ first three managers came from outside the organization. Baylor had previously served as a hitting coach before he became the team’s first manager. Leyland had a long track record of managing, and Bell managed the Tigers before coming to the Rockies.
But when Bell was fired in early 2002, Hurdle, the Rockies hitting coach since 1997, was promoted to manager. He managed the team until he was fired and his bench coach, Tracy, was promoted and instilled as the team’s manager. While Weiss technically came from outside of the organization, but his existing ties to the front office and Denver played a central role in his hiring.
In other words, from 2002 through 2016, Rockies managers were a succession of insiders, and the guy hired in 2002 had been a coach since 1997. That’s 20 years of pulling from a narrow pool. The hiring of Black is something the Rockies haven’t seen in a while.
Black takes over at a time when the Rockies look like they’ll be ready to compete for the next few seasons at least. It’s been a long time for the Rockies and Rockies’ fans alike. After finishing above .500 three times and making the postseason twice from 2007 to 2010, the Rockies haven’t won more than they lost in a season since. In fact, their 75-87 record (.463 win percentage) in 2016 was the best since their last .500 season in 2010.
The value of a manager appears in multiple ways. It’s easy to identify and praise or critique in-game tactics, but we can’t ignore the significant role a manager plays in keeping players motivated and focused over the course of a long season. The Rockies are young, talented, and poised to contend. Let’s hope Black takes them in the right direction.