A reader sent me a message about a week ago, one that promised a fun fact then actually provided one, a rarity. But what that reader likely did not realize, as I did not realize it at first, was that he had cracked the long-rumored code to the Washington Nationals’ occasionally inscrutable managerial hiring processes.

They have chosen experienced managers and inexperienced managers. They have picked proven winners and unproven rookies. They have chosen former infielders and former outfielders, and even considered a pitcher once. They have chosen a bald man, and also a man with a full head of hair. They have chosen two men that go by Davey. They nearly chose a man called “Bud,” then settled on a man called “Dusty.”

So as the Nationals have moved between four managers in six seasons, they have not done so with any reliable pattern, not signaled what might come next, not found themselves a type — at least, not on the surface. But what this reader discovered, and what you will now discover, is the covert canon of managerial candidates from which the Nationals choose their leaders, the secret list of potential managers they trust to provide theirs: The roster of the 1993 San Francisco Giants.

No one with the team has admitted this, of course. The Nationals do not even like to announce starting pitchers a moment before they have to; sharing their list of managerial candidates would surrender all competitive advantage. But the fact of the matter is this: the Nationals have chosen four managers since the start of 2014 (Bud Black included, though negotiations fell through). Every single one of them was a part of that Giants team, which won 103 games and did not make the playoffs, but whose legacy lives on South Capitol Street.

  • Matt Williams (Washington tenure: 2014-15) played third base for that Giants team. He hit .294 with 38 homers and won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger.
  • Near-Nationals manager Bud Black (Washington tenure: nonexistent) pitched for that team. He made 16 starts and pitched to a 3.56 ERA.
  • Eventual Nationals manager Dusty Baker (Washington tenure: 2016-17) managed that team as a first-year manager. He led them to 103 wins but missed the playoffs in the pre-wild-card era. Baker said he didn’t think much of winning 100 games that season. He never did it again.
  • New Nationals Manager Dave Martinez (Washington tenure: TBD) was an outfielder on that team. He played 91 games and hit .241.

Martinez may well manage the Nationals for a good long time. They may not need to find a new manager for some time. But if they do, that Giants roster has plenty of big names left to give. Barry Bonds was an outfielder for that team. Will Clark played first base.

So now you know the secret, a mystery no more. Twenty five years ago, the San Francisco Giants assembled a team that would eventually provide the Nationals with a bountiful supply of managerial candidates. They have selected four of them so far, and hope not to need another. But if they do, you know where they’ll look.

(This is, of course, completely serious.)

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