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The Biggest Loser
2005-10-06 09:44
by Mike Carminati

As the regular season came to a close, the Tigers fired former good luck charm Alan Trammell and hired veteran manager Jim Leyland. Or to be more accurate, Jim Leyland came down from on high and deigned to manage the lowly Tigers next season.

When last heard from, Leyland was campaigning for the Phillies job last season when everyone in the land of hoagies knew that Ed Wade was hiring his own version of Harriet E. Miers, the portly obtuse Charlie Manuel. Leyland seemed scorned the Mets to join the Phils' hunt late in the process even though Wade and Manuel had already been seen holding hands in public. He played the Jennifer to Wade and Manuel's Brad and Angelina. In the fallout somehow the press sided with Leyland, perhaps because he was at least a credible managerial candidate.

Now, suddenly the Tigers have to kiss his ring to get him to debase himself into actually managing their club. What papal bull! Meanwhile Dave Johnson can't get a jingle.

I know that Leyland had a great run with the Bonds & Bonilla Pirates, and he helmed the Marlins to the first, free agent-laden Series championship. But when did he become the second coming of John McGraw. Let's not forget his last managerial stint was a stellar one-year, 70-92 run with the Rockies.

Overall, Leyland is a losing manager. In fact, he is one of a handful of managers to win a thousand games and still lose more than he won. He is the only active one:

Manager# YrsWLPCT
Connie Mack5337313948.486
Bucky Harris2921572218.493
Gene Mauch2619022037.483
Jimmie Dykes2214061541.477
Chuck Tanner1913521381.495
Bill Rigney1812391321.484
Lou Boudreau1611621224.487
John McNamara1911601233.485
Tom Kelly1611401244.478
Art Howe1411291137.498
Jim Leyland1410691131.486
Jim Fregosi1510281095.484

That made wonder how many times a team had hired a manager who had already lost a thousand times as the Tigers did in hiring Leyland. So I looked it up…

It's the fourteenth time that a team has turned to a thousand-time loser. The last time when the D-Rays hired Lou Piniella, and we all know how well that turned out. Here's the complete list ranked by most losses at the time of hiring. I also list how the team performed in the manager's first season:

ManagerYrTeamPrev WPrev LPCTWLPCT
Bucky Harris1955DET19962071.4917975.513
Leo Durocher1973HOU19261629.5428280.506
Bucky Harris1943PHI14181483.4893852.422
Jimmie Dykes1961CLE13291458.4777783.481
Gene Mauch1976MIN11451311.4668577.525
Jimmie Dykes1954BAL11071194.48154100.351
Tony LaRussa1996StL13201183.5278874.543
Chuck Tanner1986ATL11991173.5057289.447
Lou Piniella2003TB13191135.5376399.389
Jim Leyland2005DET10691131.486
Bill McKechnie1938CIN11521092.5138268.547
Bill Rigney1970MIN9571049.4779864.605
Jim Leyland1999COL9971041.4897290.444
Joe Torre1996NYY8941003.4719270.568

On average the new team had a ,488 winning percentage, which translates into 79 wins in a 162-game schedule, only eight more than the Tigers won this year. Of course, this is in no way definitive, but it demonstrates that hiring a veteran manager who hasn't had nonpareil success previous is unlikely to have a one-year turnaround with his new club.

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