In Major League Baseball (MLB) since 1950, there have been 38 player-coaches.
Of those 38 player-coaches, only one team won a championship with a player-coach. That team was the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964, whose player-manager was none other than the legendary Stan Musial. Musial served as the team’s player-manager for the final month of the season after the team’s original manager Johnny Keane resigned, leading the Cardinals to an improbable World Series victory over the heavily-favored New York Yankees.
It’s worth noting that the role of player-coach has become increasingly rare in baseball since the 1950s, as the demands of both playing and coaching have become more specialized and time-consuming. Today, it’s very rare to see a player also serving as a coach or manager in the majors.
Since 1950, there have been hundreds of managers in Major League Baseball (MLB). It’s difficult to provide an exact number because managers are frequently hired, fired, and replaced throughout the course of a baseball season, let alone over the span of several decades.
However, according to Baseball-Reference, as of the end of the 2021 season, there have been a total of 481 managers in MLB since 1950. This includes both full-time and interim managers who were in charge of at least one game during their tenure.
It’s worth noting that some managers have had multiple stints with different teams, so the number of individual managers who have managed at least one game during that time period is likely somewhat lower than 481.
So what does this mean for a sales team? If we run the math, it shows that only 1 of 38 player coaches won a championship, or 2.6%, while 71 of 444 (481-38) managers only won a championship, or 16%. Extending the logic to your sales team indicates that a coach-only model is 6.1 times more likely to produce a “championship” than a player-coach model.
Why does any business have a player-coach, then? It’s a scale issue. How can a small sales teams get the management and leadership it needs when there are only a few salespeople to manage? There’s not enough scale to justify a full-time sales leader, so the company settles for an imperfect solution, a player-coach.
If this sounds like your sales team, consider a fractional sales leader instead. You won’t run the risk of overtaxing your player-coach, and salespeople can get the leader they need to excel.