If you were to hand-select a manager to guide a disparate group of talent to a world title over the past two decades, Bruce Bochy would be right near the top of the list.
If you needed to pick one manager to fight off Madison Bumgarner's aggressive requests, he'd top that list without a doubt.
The San Francisco Giants themselves get too little credit for what the team accomplished in the early part of this decade. Often described as some sort of machine or as the beneficiaries of "even year magic," their roster was actually wildly different in each of the three title campaigns. 2010 was carried by the likes of Pat Burrell and Edgar Renteria. The forgotten Barry Zito delivered a ring by out-pitching Justin Verlander. None of it made linear sense, but much of it was due to Bochy's uncanny ability to blend spare parts into beloved contributors (Ryan Vogelsong thanks him heartily).
San Fran's success has always been an extreme argument in favor of the human element still mattering. Therefore, with results to match the reputation, Bruce Bochy is a surefire Hall of Famer. But what's with his win-loss total?
Bruce Bochy's a slam-dunk Hall of Famer. 3 rings and a World Series appearance in San Diego. For sure.— 12up (@12upSport) February 18, 2019
(whispers) He's also somehow got an under-.500 managerial record career?
That's right. Bochy, for all his well-documented success, currently sports a 1,926-1,944 record, and it'll be tough for him to climb over .500 unless his aged Giants mount a spirited comeback yet again in 2019.
Season by season, the numbers tell a grim story, too. In 24 seasons in San Diego and San Francisco, Bochy has only finished above .500 in 50 percent of them, tossing exactly 12 successful campaigns on the board. It's not a knock on his clearly-expressed skills. It simply ranks as odd, in very public fashion.
Ever since I moved to San Francisco in 2007, the city and our awesome fans have embraced me. I'm going to miss it, but I'm so grateful for the last 12 years and am looking forward to finishing strong this season.— Bruce Bochy (@BruceBochy) February 18, 2019
It's fair to note that Bochy has often elevated teams with subpar talent to their highest possible peaks. In fact, the most effective expensive talent he's probably ever had came during his mid-'90s tenure in San Diego (Caminiti, Kevin Brown, and Wally Joyner say hello). It's also fair to note the flip side -- he failed just as often as he succeeded, and if Edgar Renteria doesn't find the fountain of youth at the right time, or the Tigers' bats rise to the occasion in 2012, we're not having this conversation.
He's in. He's got the prizes. But the resume proves this tale was so close to going in the middling "maybe" pile, and that's certainly another example of how anyone's baseball life can turn on a dime.