After the Houston Astros lost game seven of the American League Championship Series earlier this week, manager Dusty Baker seemed to indicate that he wasn’t going to be looking for a job in 2024 as a manager. That became official on Wednesday when he announced that he was officially retiring.

A baseball lifer, Baker spent parts of 19 seasons in the big leagues as a player with Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland from 1968-1986. He was a 2-time All-Star, a 2-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and he earned a Gold Glove Award in 1981.

Seven years after his playing career ended he landed his first big league managing job, taking over the San Francisco Giants in 1993 and leading them to a 103-59 record. That was not enough to get them into the playoffs in the pre-wild card and two-division era. It was, however, a sign of things to come for Baker-managed teams. Over the 26 years that he was a manager he went 2183-1862. That’s a .540 winning percentage. The math on that works out to more than 87 wins per full season.

His time in Cincinnati as the Reds manager was a bit of a mixed bag. Three of his six seasons were ones that finished with losing records. But the other three saw the Reds win 90, 91, and 97 games and make the playoffs in each year – winning the division twice. The playoffs, though, were soul crushing. In 2010 the team made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, got no-hit and then swept in the first round. Two years later they had arguably the best team in the league and jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, only to return home and lose three straight games to be eliminated in the first round. The next year saw them lose a wild card game against Pittsburgh to be eliminated.

When Baker left the Reds, so did the winning. Cincinnati had six straight losing seasons after he moved on before they finished 31-29 in 2020. That is the only season since Baker left that the team didn’t finish double-digit games back of first place and that was a shortened season where it would be far more difficult to finish that far back.

With his career now over, Dusty Baker finishes up with the 7th most wins in MLB history by a manager. His 2183 wins trail Sparky Anderson (2194), Joe Torre (2326), Bobby Cox (2504), John McGraw (2763), Tony La Russa (2884), and Connie Mack (3731). He has 57 playoff wins, which is the 4th most of all time – but he only has one World Series to show for it.

46 Responses

  1. Melvin

    “Two years later they had arguably the best team in the league and jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, only to return home and lose three straight games to be eliminated in the first round.”

    That one sticks out in my mind the most. smh

    I met Dusty a couple of times. Once in a caravan stop in Indy. The other time in the
    Cincy dugout while taking a ball park tour. Seems like a good guy. I wish him the best.

  2. Mark Moore

    Another managerial vacancy. Wonder where Counsel ends up. And I wonder why none of these high-profile teams have been associated with one HDTBell … 😉

    • Amarillo

      Bell is under contract. Counsell’s contract expired after the season.

      • Mark Moore

        I realize that. Must have left the sarcasm font off. Given he ranks 100 out of 30, he’s not going anywhere as long as the Bob&Phil show run the joint.

      • Melvin

        “Given he ranks 100 out of 30

        Good thing your meter won’t go any higher. 😀

    • Jason Franklin

      The rumor around the grapevine is he ends up with one of those nasty New York teams. Throw money at it until the problem is fixed, I guess.

      I would love to see the Reds sign Counsel but that won’t happen.

    • Melvin


      “As it happens, this is the second time in almost exactly two years that Melvin take a new managerial job while leaving another job with one year remaining on his contract.”

      I wander if any manager has ever left for new horizons with three years remaining on his contract? 😉

    • MK

      Since the Mets hired the Brewers GM to be theirs, after his contrcr ran out it isn’t hard for me to imagine if Council doesn’t stay in Miwaukee he will be a Met.

      Dusty gets a bad rap about winning just one World Series yet Bobby Cox is looked at as a Mangerial Icon, with a decade of making the playoffs, yet he won just one.

  3. LDS

    Best of luck in retirement. Though perhaps a minority opinion here, but Dusty is the last decent manager the Reds had.

    • Votto4life

      @LDS I agree with you. Dusty is a winner. Too bad the Reds sent him packing.

      • greenmtred

        I also like Dusty. RLN was not as kind to him then as we are now: he was criticized for poor strategic decisions, irrational use of players, poor lineup construction, excessive fealty to mediocre veterans and so on. Sound familiar?

      • Harry Stoner

        Delivering that daily dose of cynicism again, eh?

        Maybe DB was trashed by you, but not by me.

        And certainly not by a lot of knowledgeable Reds’s fans.

        Painful to recall the racist-tinged rants on other Reds’ fan boards, though.

        We’ll let you sing Bell’s praises after he retires.

      • LDS

        That won’t happen @Harry. David Bell is no better than Price just better connected. If he wasn’t, he’d be gone.

      • MK

        Didn’t Buddy quit? I would guess David’s big connection is gone.

        When you consider the Reds went from 100 losses one year and to the next to the last day before being eliminated the next while playing an infield of rookies, he deserves praise rather than condemnation.

        Its funny to see how he gets blasted here changes. Always before it was because he preferred has-been veterans over promising rookies. Well, guess that argument is shot.

        Another he makes poor personnel decisions. For years here and other places the complaint was that the Reds did not use analytics like other successful teams have. Well, Bell is an anylitcs guy and with the Reds talent this is what an analytics approach to personnel looks like. I’ll admit I don’t always like this analytic approach but it is what it is, so in that regard he and the coaches are performing the way they were hired for.

      • greenmtred

        No, he was not trashed by me. I maintained then as now that managers don’t have as much impact on wins and losses as players do. Nor am I cynical.

      • LDS

        @MK, he doesn’t take an “analytics” approach. He has a couple of “rules of thumb” and he beats them to death. He affection for dinosaurs and mediocre journeymen hasn’t changed. Krall simply stripped the roster of most of them. But, he did leave him Votto and Senzel so he had a couple to covet. Buddy resigning didn’t break his front office connections. Wish it had but it didn’t.

    • Harry Stoner

      We’re not in agreement often, amigo, but definitely here.

      DB still gives the best post game interviews in MLB.

      “I remember when Hank Aaron said to me: ‘You’re never going to hit Drysdale’s curveball. Don’t even think about swinging at it. ‘’

      Priceless stuff.

      Particularly noteworthy after how many years of Bell’s rambling, pointless mumble-core drollery.

      Good to see the old man get mixed up in one last bench clearing brawl before retiring, too.

      Baker was a living link between two eras of baseball.

      • MK

        Don’t want to get my DBs confused Harry, I assume the DB you reference is Dusty Baker, not David Bell.

    • West Larry

      I absolutely agree. I remember that in his final season he was being trashed by a lot of bloggers-on this very website.

      • LDS

        I wasn’t here during Baker’s tenure with the Reds, but the board has certainly not been kind to him over the last 3-4 years that I have been here. But, I’m old enough to remember seeing him play at Riverfront back in the early 70s with Atlanta. Some of the guys were winding down their careers but they could still put on a show on the right day.

    • Jim Walker

      +10K (at least). Dusty’s 357-291 (.551 W%) record including three 90 win seasons and 3 playoff appearances in 2010-2013 points out the bankruptcy of trying to make three .500+ seasons in the last 4 years under Bell but with a cumulative record of 258-288 (.473 W%) and 1 playoff appearance seem like a golden era of Reds baseball.

      • greenmtred

        I can’t say that I’ve seen anybody calling this a golden era. There has been a fair amount of enthusiasm about the talented young players and a more exciting style of play.

      • Jim Walker

        Maybe like Mark above, I forgot to turn on the sarcasm font 😉

        Here and elsewhere a number of people were touting Bell’s “3 winning seasons” as proof he was the right guy for the Reds moving forward with the talented corps.

        However, he’s also the guy who was at the helm when they frittered away very substantial playoff opportunities with poor finishes in his 2 complete season “winning years”, 2021 and ’23. His combined 2021 and ’23 record of 51-60 from Aug, 1 thru the end of the season suggests he has a way to go.

      • greenmtred

        He was at the helm, Jim, and without enumerating them for the umpteenth time, I’ll reiterate that there were extenuating circumstances, just as Cueto being lost early in the playoffs during Dusty’s tenure was extenuating. For Bell, this year, the state of the starting rotation for the end of the season was a whopper of an extenuating circumstance. We’ll see, perhaps, in the coming few years whether Bell can succeed with a talented roster.

      • Melvin

        “His combined 2021 and ’23 record of 51-60 from Aug, 1 thru the end of the season suggests he has a way to go.”

        That’s putting it mildly. 🙂

      • greenmtred

        He may, Melvin. Most employers count on their employees improving with experience. But a team’s record, absent information about the players, doesn’t tell you much about the manager. If a race car driver, leading the race, throws a rod and finishes last, do you think that proves he’s a bad driver?

      • old-school

        @GMR. Its still too early to discuss Cueto , the Reds playoff series lead and the lost opportunity of 2012 against the giants up 2-0 in the series and buster posey……..maybe in a few more years.

  4. TR

    Dusty Baker, as a player, was always in the game. Although he played most of his career with the Braves and Dodgers, for me he was always a little too Dodger blue. Enjoy your retirement.

  5. SultanofSwaff

    Dusty’s people skills are unmatched. To me that was his managerial superpower. Best of luck.

    Here’s hoping Craig Counsell leaves the NL Central for greener pastures. He’s the kind of manager to me that is worth an extra 3-5 wins because he’s so dang sharp and ultra competitive. I like my managers to look a little chapped at all times lol….seems like the best ones share that trait—Leyland, Weaver, LaRussa, Piniella…….

  6. Mark Moore

    Regardless of how you viewed Dusty’s work in the dugout, I seriously doubt “having the players love him” was high on his list. Sure he would start guys we may have thought shouldn’t start using the “Gotta get him going” bit, but I’m thinking some of the clubhouse discipline he knew from his playing era would have carried over to his management practice.

    Times change … that much is certain.

    • Jim Walker

      Saw a short clip of a Dusty interview last week. He was asked about his “nice guy” reputation. His answer was that he also had a “bad side”; and it took knowing when to show some of that “bad side” to be able to also be a “nice guy” manager. Oh but if he could be brought in to tutor the current Reds manager in this regard.

      • Mark Moore

        If you actually thing HDTBell would accept that kind of tutoring. Or if Dusty would put up with the shenanigans. 😀

  7. Laredo Slider

    Saw Baker as a player, solid all around performer. Retirement’s well deserved, good luck to him.

  8. SOQ

    I always hated how he used his pitchers, then I heard George Grande say that he let Bryan Price make all of the pitching decisions. That explained a lot. I also hated that if the lead off batter got a hit, he always had the next batter sac him over to 2nd. But, I’d love to sit down and have a beer with him 🙂

  9. Michael B. Green

    Great signed by Reds of Bubba Thompson. Think he has 1 more option year. Great speed and D. Perfect insurance and reserve. He should get 1 of the 8 OF spots on the 40MR.

    • Jim Walker

      Thompson was a waiver claim award which automatically puts him on the 40 man unless/ until the Reds do something to change that status.

      • Michael B. Green

        Yep. I know. Should have added – keeping him on the 40 throughout ST.

  10. David

    Dusty batted Cleanup with the Braves, bracketed between Henry Aaron (3rd) and Darrell Evans (5th, who regularly hit in the range of 25-40 HR a year). Dusty was a 20-25 HR a year guy, but was viewed as a great situational RBI player.
    He was a really good ball player. Yeah, I saw him play too.
    The Braves had lousy pitching in the 1970’s (except for 1974) but were a very strong offensive team.
    For a while, one of Dusty’s team mates was Dave Johnson (who hit 40 Hr one year with the Braves). They were friends for years, as they sometimes managed against each other.
    I didn’t always like the way he managed, but the players respected him. And I think that generally, they really played hard for him
    He never did anything to show up his players in public. He always talked to them in private when he had a beef with them.
    He was on teams with some really good players (and Henry Aaron, who was a great player) and I don’t think he was ever “awed” by the players he managed.

  11. doofus

    ET (El Toothpick) was a good player and decent manager.

  12. Doc

    I don’t find that number of playoff wins means much, except that the playoffs have been expanded so much. There used to be 4 possible playoff wins in a season. Now there are 13. No way to compare over time based on total playoff wins. Playoff winning percentage might have some validity.

    Same applies to individual stats that are just playoff totals. There needs to be a normalizing denominator to be able to compare across the decades of ever changing numbers of games. For example, the Rangers player who racked up the home runs so far this playoff would not have even been in the playoffs during the early Baker years, and about another 100 years before that.

  13. James

    He’s a winner, and the Reds have not been the same since they fired him.

  14. Steelerfan

    Confess I was one of those back in the day who claimed he was a league average manager who underachieved with the talent he had in Chicago and Cincinnati and applauded the hiring of Price.

    Mea culpa. Some takes age REALLY badly. Congratulations on a Hall of Fame career and best wisheds to him and his family moving forward.

    P.S. (still blame him for playing David Patterson though)