Bruce Bochy won his 2000th game as manager on Wednesday. The historic milestone came at Fenway Park in a 11-3 victory over the Red Sox. Bochy is now one of only 11 wins with 2000 or more wins in MLB history.
Bochy has been considered a certain hall of famer since winning his third world series title in 2014 but this milestone strengthens his case even further. The other 10 managers with 2000 wins are all in the hall of fame. But it is not the volume of wins or his longevity that will have earnt him his place in Cooperstown.
With the Giants Bochy took over a team that was losing one of the best players in baseball history and managed to make them more succesful. he won the first Giants’ first world series title since moving to California in 1958 only three years after Barry Bonds retiring. He then won two more over the next four seasons. The baseball postseason is often considered a lottery but Bochy knew that Postseason baseball was completely different to the regular season and adjusted his strategy accordingly.
Bochy would often use starters out of the bullpen during October as well as pulling pitchers from the game much quicker than the regular season. Bochy will deservedly go down in history as the best ever bullpen manager. Bochy’s ability to navigate through a game once his team has the lead was the key to the Giants world Series success. Bochy always made the decision that gave them an advantage over their opponents. Whether it was Tim Lincecum dominating out of the Bullpen in 2012, Madison Bumgarner‘s heroic 2014 world series, or the core four of Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez, Bochy managed to make his pitchers better by using them in innovative ways.
The way bullpens are used has changed over the past couple of years, starters come out of games earlier, more relief pitchers are used in each game and the line between relievers and starters has become blurred. These changes can be traced back to Bochy’s postseason exploits in the first half of the decade.
Bruce Bochy may not have a great winning percentage compared to other great managers but he certainly got more out of his teams than many would have expected. The Giants were never among the favourites for the world series, they were mostly not even division favourites during Bochy’s tenure. However, time and again Bochy gained the advantage in big games with his bullpen management. Like all greats Bochy arguably changed the sport and that will be his biggest legacy.