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.