Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Buddy Bell. Bell’s father Gus played 15 years in the major leagues, mostly in Cincinnati. Though Buddy was born in Pittsburgh, he grew up in Cincinnati and went to Moeller High School where he was drafted by the Indians in the 16th round. He spent three seasons in the minors, jumping AA completely before making the Indians big league club in 1972. In 1973 he made his first All-Star team. Over the next five years in Cleveland he put up a 104 OPS+, 18.2 bWAR, 80 Win Shares, 16.1 fWAR, 16.2 WARP, which was good enough to get him traded to the Texas Rangers. For six seasons in Texas Bell posted a 123 OPS+ and made four All-Star teams. In July of 1985 the Rangers sent Bell to his hometown Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Duane Walker and a player to be named later (who turned out to be reliever Jeff Russell). He would put together a couple more solid seasons for the Reds before being dealt to the Astros. He finished his playing career with the Rangers in 1989.
After a few years as a bench coach for the Reds and Indians, Bell took over as manager of the Detroit Tigers, replacing the legendary Sparky Anderson in 1996. The Tigers by this time were absolutely terrible, going 60-84 in the strike shortened 1995 season (they managed to give Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker – a combined 75 years old by this time – 540 plate appearances; this was an old team that badly needed an age turnover). As was expected the Tigers lost 109 games that season, 46 ½ games behind the Indians. In one of the worst voting selections of all time, Bell finished fifth in the Manager of the Year voting and even received a first place vote. To put this in perspective, Tribe skipper Mike Hargrove received just two first place votes while Joe Torre and Johnny Oates tied for the award. The next season the Tigers improved to 79-83, a 26-game improvement. As a result Bell finished second in the voting behind Davey Johnson. The following season was a disaster, though as the Tigers went 52-85 before Bell was fired.
In 2000 Bell took the job in Colorado, replacing the retiring Jim Leyland. His first year the Rockies were 82-80 and Bell finished sixth in the Manager of the Year voting. This would be the apex of his managerial career. The Rockies declined in 2001 and just 22 games into the 2002 season he was canned again.
In 2005 Buddy Bell became the third manager of the season for the Kansas City Royals. His record of 43-69 was bad, but when you consider his predecessors were 13-37 when he took over, well, you realize just how bad the Royals were for quite a while. The next season the Royals would go 62-100, the fourth time in five years that this once proud franchise would lose 100 games. The best moment coming on May 7. That day the Royals were playing the White Sox in Chicago. In the bottom of the fourth of scoreless game Joe Crede hit a 1-1 pitch off of Mark Redman to deep center field. The center fielder for the Royals that day was Kerry Robinson. Robinson sprinted back to the wall and braced himself. He then timed his jump and reached out in an attempt to rob Crede of a homerun. As he leapt the ball bounced ten feet in front of him on the warning track, over Robinson and the wall. The second base umpire Gerry Davis was so confused by the play that he actually called the hit a homerun. Buddy Bell had to run out and argue that no, it wasn’t a homerun, but that his center fielder had zero sense of judgement on a fly ball to center. Ah, the Kansas City Royals.
The next year the Royals were 69-93, Bell was fired, and hasn’t managed since. Of all managers with at least 1,000 games Bell’s .418 winning percentage is the worst.