Hall Of Fame Debate: Rank ‘Em – Joe Torre VS Bobby Cox VS Tony LaRussa

Hall Of Fame Debate: Rank ‘Em – Joe Torre VS Bobby Cox VS Tony LaRussa

I think that it is safe to say that in time the trio of Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony LaRussa will all be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

If I was a betting man, and this was a bet with any kind of odds, I would bet the house on this one.  Each of these managers left an impression on the sport, on the fans of the teams that they coached, and maybe most important – they left impressions on the teams and fans that were battling against them.

I could comfortably state that Torre, Cox, and LaRussa are the cream of the crop as it relates to successful major league managers from their eras.

With that all being said – how easy is it to say which one is better?

It’s not.

Because what the manager does is not measured in numbers.  At least not in any numbers in which they are awarded for good decisions and penalized for bad ones.

But the good ones, the really good ones, seem to get the best out of their best players and the best out of the ones that are lower on the totem pole as well.

Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony LaRussa can all take great pride in the team and individual successes of the players that the managed as they certainly had a hand in that success.

For tonight’s ‘Hall of Fame Debate’ I am asking for you to give me the order in which these three great coaches should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  They’re all going to get in – it’s just a matter of time before that happens.

But, who deserves to get in first, second, and third??

While you cannot judge all that a manager does by the numbers his teams put up, it is nice to compare both players and managers in similar categories.

So, here is a side-by-side-by-side comparison of the trio:

  Cox Torre LaRussa
Years 30 30 35
Wins 2504 2326 2728
Losses 2001 1997 2365
Win % 0.556 0.538 0.536
100-win seasons 6 4 4
1st place finishes 15 13 11
Last place finishes 4 4 2
Division Championships 15 13 11
League Championships 4 6 6
World Series Titles 1 4 3
Manager Of The Year 4 2 4


The numbers stack up pretty well for these three guys, huh?  For me, the only thing that really stands out is how close to a .500 winning percentage each manager is over the course of their careers.  Deemed as uber-successful, they are all very close to 50%.

And now, time for me to divulge my rankings.

First, a little chatter about each guy:

  • Cox – you cannot ignore the consecutive seasons in which his Braves teams won their division.  I find it to be one of the most impressive feats in baseball history.
  • Torre – he had to manage a ton of egos during his run as the manager of the Yankees. He did it with grace, and it looked like all of his players valued his style.
  • LaRussa – he did it twice, with two clubs.  And he did it with the game’s greatest players on his roster both times (Canseco & Pujols).  His bullpen use is highly criticized, but it resulted in a lot of wins.

But who ranks the highest? 

If you had to select the order in three consecutive induction years in which these three former managers would be inducted, what order would you place them in??


Here is my ranking:

  1. Tony LaRussa
  2. Bobby Cox
  3. Joe Torre

When I think back to LaRussa, I never saw him as a ‘losing’ manager.  He took hold of the A’s and Cardinals franchises and took them both to the pinnacle.  I witnessed both Cox and Torre manage losing clubs before they got their ‘breaks’ with the Braves and Yankees.  And while they both had a ton of success, they also had ridiculous lineups – Cox with his Hall of Fame pitching rotation and Torre with his All-World offenses.

For me, LaRussa did the most with the least.  He gets top-billing in my book!!!


How about you?  How would you rank these managers if you had to pick the order in which they entered the Hall of Fame?

Yes, it is splitting hairs as all are deserving – but it is fun nonetheless!!!

Thanks for reading.

16 responses to “Hall Of Fame Debate: Rank ‘Em – Joe Torre VS Bobby Cox VS Tony LaRussa

  1. I’m ranking them:

    1. Bobby Cox
    2. Tony LaRussa
    3. Joe Torre

    Bobby Cox not only was responsible for guiding the Braves for 14 consecutive 1st place finishes from 1991-2005, but he was responsible for drafting and acquiring 3 future Hall Of Famers (Glavine, Smoltz and C. Jones) as GM of the Braves from 1985 -1990 and he was responsible for changing the direction of the Braves franchise from losers to elites. I saw Bobby Cox more than the others and for me there was no better manager during his era.

  2. Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, Albert Pujols, Mark McGwire. Jose Canseco, Harold Baines, Ozzie Smith, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, Cris Carpenter, Dave Stewart, Mike Moore, Jason Isringhausen, Willie McGee, Terry Steinbach, Dave Parker, Lance Berkman, Carlton Fisk among others. Seriously, less talent? Not convinced.

    • Matt- The trio of Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz were as close to a guarantee of 60+ wins every single year – and Cox had them all during their prime years.

      Half of the guys you named played for TLR in the twilight of their careers.

      • I’ll give you Ozzie Smith as far as playing for LaRussa during the twilight of his career and didn’t produce much. Parker was in the twilight of his career but he produced when he played for LaRussa. Everyone else I listed played for him during the prime of their careers and produced while playing for LaRussa. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

      • Matt – Willie McGee was definitely not playing for LaRussa during the prime of his career. Lance Berkman, Carlton Fisk, Harlod Baines, Dave Parker – these guys also were not on his rosters during their primes.

      • Berkman produced when he played under LaRussa, as did Parker, Fisk’s offensive numbers went way up during his years with the W. Sox, Baines played under LaRussa with the W.Sox & the A’s, McGee played under LaRussa with the A’s & Cardinals. Even though some of these guys were older when they played for LaRussa they put up good – great numbers when they played for him. You’re underestimating the players and numbers they put up when they played under LaRussa. He had a lot of talent that played for him during his managing career with the White Sox, A’s and Cardinals.

      • Matt- we’re on different pages on this one, and that is cool.

        But for me, the peak years of that pitching trio top anything that any combo of these players have LaRussa. 60+ guaranteed victories is something Cox had for more than a decade straight. TLR had some great pitchers, even aces in Stew and Carp, but nothing remotely close to what Cox had…

  3. Yup… all three of these guys are headed to Cooperstown… no doubt. And once again, it’d be foolish for me to think that I know that much about baseball to be able to pick the greatest among these three.

    So instead… I’m changing the rules and will rank them based on who’s my favorite:

    1. Bobby Cox – Grew up watching him on TBS and always liked him.
    2. Tony LaRussa – Loved him when he coached the A’s. But didn’t like him or hate him after he left.
    3. Joe Torre – Was always impressed with the way he managed the most expensive players in the game… but I really dislike the Yankees… so that’s why he’s at the bottom.

  4. Ron Churchwell

    LaRussa, Torre, and Cox in that order for me. Partially because I hate the Braves being a Pirates and Marlins fan.

  5. Larussa hands down. I’m actually a bigger Torre fan, but I still have to give Tony the advantage. I can’t wait for these three guy to become Hall of Famers!

  6. I would say LaRussa, Torre and Cox for me. All 3 belong but I like that LaRussa was able to win with a few different teams and that puts him over Torre. With “only” 1 World Series title I have to put Cox in third, yes the division winning streak was impressive but he should have delivered more titles to rank #1 of these 3 in my opinion.

  7. I would go with Torre first, because you cannot discount his very impressive playing career, including winning an MVP award. I think Larussa 2nd for winning World Series in both leagues and a very close 3rd to Cox.

    As far as their fairly low winning percentages, all 3 had to earn their stripes managing poor teams in the 70s and early 80s( Larussa with the White Sox, Torre with Braves and Mets and Cox with Blue Jays). Ironically, Cox followed Torre on the Braves. But all 3 eventually took average or underachieving organizations to championships

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