Manny Ramirez retired last week after failing a league drug test.
While many debate Manny’s Hall-of-Fame merits, it might be instructive to think about the careers he helped ruined by cheating.
Like how Manny cost Bob Melvin his job. Twice.
In 2008, Manny forced his way out of Boston and was traded to the Dodgers at the July 31 trade deadline. At the time, the Dodgers were two games behind the Diamondbacks, who were managed by Melvin.
Over the course of the last 54 games, Manny hit .396 with 17 home runs. Los Angeles made up four games in the standings, winning the division by two games, and knocking Arizona out of playoff contention.
According to Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement, Manny was worth 3.1 Wins to the Dodgers during that playoff run. So it is easy to imagine that the Diamondbacks win the division if the Dodgers did not have Manny and his PEDs. After missing a chance at a second straight trip to the playoffs, Melvin was fired just 29 games into the 2009 season, when his team fell eight games behind the Manny-led Dodgers.
But this wasn’t the first time Manny had a negative impact on Melvin’s career.
In 2003, the same year as Manny’s first positive test for PEDs*, Manny helped lead the Red Sox to a 95-67 record and a spot in the playoffs as the American League’s Wild Card team. Manny hit .325 with 37 home runs and was worth 6.0 Wins in the standings.
That Red Sox team won the Wild Card by just two games over the Seattle Mariners (93-69). And the M’s were led by, you guessed it, Bob Melvin. It was Melvin’s first season at the helm. The next year, the Mariners lost 99 games and Melvin was fired. Melvin would have likely been retained at least one more year if he had taken Seattle to the playoffs in 2003.
That makes two instances in which Manny’s cheating cost Melvin-led squads a fair shot at the playoffs. And in each case, if Melvin’s teams make the postseason, he is probably not fired the following year.
Nobody can argue that Manny was a great baseball player. But his cheating cost others a chance at greatness. And maybe nobody lost more than Bob Melvin. Does that sound like a Hall-of-Famer?
*The first positive test came in 2003 prior to the implementation of MLB’s testing program.
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