Former Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson definitely deserves a call from the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this year.
After a lifetime in baseball, Davey Johnson, who managed the Washington Nationals for just over two seasons, has built a resume as both a player and manager that is worthy of a call from the Hall of Fame.
As the Nats approach their 14th season here in D.C., names of players and managers connected to the franchise are slowly starting to make their way into Cooperstown consideration.
If you were to take a poll of the 2018 MLB Draft class and asked if they would consider a 13-year career in the majors to be a success, it’s all but sure the answer would be a resounding yes. Then if you combine it with 17 years on the bench as a manager, it’s even more impressive.
Even Alex Cora would be likely to take those types of numbers, and he just won a World Series title in his first season as a manager following his own 13-year playing career. The Hall of Fame summarized it best by saying the following:
"“David Allen Johnson, “Davey”: Toughness personified in the field and on the top step of the dugout. Won 1,372 games managing in four decades, led the Mets, Orioles, Dodgers, and Nationals to the postseason, winning one pennant and one World Series in New York in ’86, winning Manager of the Year twice, in Baltimore in ’97 and Washington in ’12. In 13 seasons as a player, hit .261 as a four-time all-star, three-time Gold Glove recipient, and two-time World Series champion.”"
Davey Johnson was nominated as one of ten men that will be considered on the “Today’s Game Ballot” for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. Charlie Manuel and Lou Piniella are the only other managers that appear on the ballot.
Each of the three has won one world series and six division championships. Of the three managers, Johnson ranks first in winning percentage at .562, as well as wins above .500 with 301 and an overall record of 1372-1071.
Johnson, known for turning around ball clubs the minute he arrived in a clubhouse, came to the Washington Nationals in 2011. Only two other managers have taken four clubs to the postseason, in Billy Martin and Dusty Baker, in the history of the game. Johnson, though, ended up in D.C. in what might have been the most interesting hire of his career.
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The Nats were in the midst of a great first half in 2011, including a sweep of the Mariners at Nats Park. However, Jim Riggleman refused to join the Nats for their upcoming road trip unless Mike Rizzo and ownership exercised his team option for the following season.
Riggleman was not going to be extended and Rizzo fired him that night. It took seven seasons for Riggleman to get another shot at managing and he was recently named bench coach of the New York Mets.
But Mike Rizzo’s next move might have been one of the best executive decisions he’s made in Washington. Rizzo reached out to Davey Johnson, and the rest, as they say, is history.
But after his time in the nation’s capital, he was once again pushed into retirement in favor of Matt Williams in 2013. This arguably stands as one of the worst executive decisions Rizzo has made during his time in D.C., but that’s a topic for another day.
On the topic of the Hall of Fame, Rizzo was adamant throughout Johnson’s two and half seasons in Washington that he believed Johnson belongs among the greatest in the game in Cooperstown. Johnson went on to have a record of 224-183 in Washington with an NL East Division Championship in 2012 while young superstars such as Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Anthony Rendon.
If Davey Johnson is able to secure the votes to get him into the HoF, it is unlikely that he will be donning a Washington Nationals uniform on his plaque. In fact, he’s likely to wear an Orioles or Mets cap, the two teams he won World Series titles with as a player and manager, respectively.
Johnson, though, will be remembered for bringing postseason baseball back to D.C. for the first time since 1933. For that, he may even deserve a spot as the first manager in the Ring of Honor at Nationals Park, but Cooperstown should work on getting a plaque too.