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Torre becomes fifth-winningest manager of all time

By beating the A’s last night Joe Torre moved past Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson for fifth place on the all-time wins list with 2,195.

“If you told me a dozen years ago that I’d be in this rarefied air, I’d tell you you’re full of baloney because I certainly started way under .500 when I took over the Yankees in 1996,” Torre said. “I have to thank George Steinbrenner for putting me in a position to do this. I’ve admired what Sparky did for all those years, and I’m proud to be in that company.”

Torre is certainly right about his career path being different than you’d expect from the fifth-winningest skipper in baseball history, as he became a manager in 1977 at the age of 36 and spent five seasons going just 286-420 (.405) with the Mets. By comparison, Anderson won 102 games as a 36-year-old rookie manager in 1970, and had four NL pennants and two World Series titles after seven seasons on the job.

Not only did Torre start slow, he had a modest 894-1,003 (.471) career record when Steinbrenner hired him to take over the Yankees as a 55-year-old in 1996. The rest is history, of course, as Torre won six AL pennants, four championships, and 60 percent of his games during a dozen seasons in New York and has gone 128-101 (.559) in two seasons in Los Angeles.

Torre will have a very difficult time moving higher than fifth on the all-time wins list because he has two active managers ahead of him in Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and they lead him by 162 and 301 wins, respectively. Of course, his standing in the top five is also very safe, as 65-year-old Lou Piniella is the next-closest active manager with 463 fewer wins and no one else is even within 800.

Connie Mack is the all-time leader with an amazing 3,731, which is 35 percent more than second place John McGraw at 2,763. To put that into some context, consider that Torre could win 100 games per season until the age of 80 and he’d still be 280 shy of Mack. Also consider that, among the 10 managers with 2,000 victories, Mack is the only one with a sub-.500 record. He managed an astounding 7,755 games--only 347 fewer than Torre and Anderson combined--and won 48.6 percent of them.