PHOENIX - Bruce Douglas Bochy made his MLB debut on July 19, 1978 for the Houston Astros. He would last parts of nine seasons in his playing career, appearing in 358 games, most of which came from behind the plate, though he also saw time at first base. He was a career .239 hitter who never made an All-Star team and was a solid defender known as a good clubhouse presence. Basically, he was a run-of-the-mill backup catcher.
When he retired following the 1987 season, we had nary a clue that he'd go on to become one of the most decorated managers in MLB history. Even if he had the look of a possible future manager, there's just no way to tell how successful a manager will be.
Bochy, 68, departed from the Giants after the 2019 season and didn't manage in 2020, 2021 or 2022. He returned to the dugout this season for the Rangers and he was immediately excited about his decision to come back.
"I knew this was the right fit for me," he said after hoisting the World Series trophy for the fourth time. "I knew their vision and then when I first got to the ballpark, I said 'I really made the right decision. It's incredible how all this happened."
It really is. And in just his first year with the Rangers, they are World Series champions.
Bochy now has accomplished the following in the dugout as manager:
- He's won one of the two San Diego Padres pennants.
- He's won the only three World Series championships for the San Francisco Giants (their previous titles all came in New York).
- He's now won the only World Series in Texas Rangers history.
- He joins Joe Torre and Walter Alston with four World Series rings. Only Casey Stengel (seven), Joe McCarthy (seven) and Connie Mack (five) have more. Every name listed here except Mack (A's) and Bochy won all their rings with Yankees dynasties. Bochy is the only one listed with rings from multiple teams.
- He's now tied with Dusty Baker for fifth in career postseason wins, but his postseason winning percentage is over .600.
- With the win in Game 7 of the ALCS, Bochy moved to 6-0 in winner-take-all games and he's now won 14 elimination games.
At some point, that's just not a coincidence. His teams nearly always come through in the clutch.
Over the years of having covered World Series in person, something has struck me about Bochy. Every manager, to a certain extent, is respected. How could they get to the World Series if not? I haven't seen a more universally respected manager than Bochy. The man they all call "Boch" is seemingly beloved by almost everyone.
I was also struck by something Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said: "It's always an honor for me to be on the same field as him. I met him at home plate after introductions, and he's like, 'hey, Torey, this is awesome. It's pretty cool, isn't it?' And for us to have a minute like that, it was probably matter of fact to him. It meant a lot to me. A, that he knew my name. And B, that we had a moment where we were talking about it being fun.
"He's an unbelievable manager, and it is a great honor for me to be on the same field with him managing the World Series. At this point, he has an almost grandfatherly stature in his clubhouse."
First off, just look at the level of respect Lovullo has for a competitor. That's great to see and it's the kind of respect Bochy commands at this point. Also, how great is it that it's right before the start of the World Series and Bochy is so nonchalant about the moment? Been there, done that, but it is pretty cool.
That level of calmness and not letting the moment overwork him is one of his best qualities in the playoffs. He doesn't panic. He just makes the moves he believes need to be made.
"He was the perfect guy for this team," catcher Jonah Heim said after the championship. "His baseball IQ, his knowledge and his poise at the helm. We've been lucky that, no matter the situation, he's always going to have that calm, stoic look on his face and we know everything's gonna be alright."
"He's just a calming presence," future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer said. "Even when you get high, he's the same and when you're low, he's the same. We fed off his energy of just staying calm and that's what this team needed. It's how we won."
There are certainly veteran presences on this Rangers team, but there's also a healthy dose of relative newcomers. Josh Jung is a rookie. Evan Carter was in Double-A in late August and only played eight Triple-A games before being called up. Leody Taveras is only 24 years old.
Bochy has been the steady hand through lots of adversity this season, too. They lost Jacob deGrom for the season after just six starts. Nathan Eovaldi missed weeks, including all of August. Corey Seager only played in 119 games. Adolis García was hurt late in the season and then during the World Series.
It wasn't just injuries, either. The Rangers dropped 16 of 20 at one point late in the season and it looked like the tailspin would bump them from the postseason. They regained their form down the stretch, all behind the calm and steady hand of Boch.
Remember, too, that this Rangers team lost 102 games in 2021 and 98 last season. There were additions, of course, including some very high-priced free agents. Bochy should be listed in that group, too. He was a major get for the Rangers, perhaps the perfect manager to join the group of veteran stars and young players.
It's become commonplace for fans who prefer "old school" managers to pretend that a grizzled vet like Bochy doesn't use "analytics," which is nonsense. He'll aggressively pull pitchers early when needed (look at Andrew Heaney's ALCS start). He looks at numbers for matchups regarding when to use which relievers.
In the case of the latter, he was again a maestro in the playoffs. The Rangers had a pretty subpar bullpen, to be generous. Josh Sborz had a 5.50 ERA in the regular season and was used as the primary setup man. Aroldis Chapman had a 1.28 WHIP and is as shaky as they come these days, but he was the second-most important setup man. Bochy used starters in relief, too, such as Dane Dunning's important stretch in the ALDS or Jon Gray coming to the rescue in Game 3 of the World Series after Scherzer got hurt.
We can't say that every single move Bochy made worked out, but the overwhelming majority of them did. Enough of them did to win the World Series. On that front, this run greatly resembled those Giants runs in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
Bochy is already a legend in San Diego and, to a much greater extent, San Francisco. After bringing this one home, he's an instant legend in Texas, too. Really, he's a legend throughout Major League Baseball. Doing this job just cements that status even further.
Rangers World Series championship gear now available
The Rangers have won thier first World Series title in five games over the Diamondbacks. Texas hadn't even had a winning season since 2016, making the 2023 World Series title all the sweeter. You can already get Rangers World Series championship hoodies, t-shirts, hats, autographed baseballs, and more. Grab your piece of history before it's gone here.
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