Since his tenure as skipper began in 2018, Aaron Boone has been prone to receiving the heave-ho. Just last week, the Yankees’ sixth-year manager was ejected for the second time in four days and the third time in 10 games, earning him a one-game suspension. Say what you will about his in-game strategy and postseason track record, but Boone certainly seems willing to stand up for his players. Yet, it’s worth asking whether he does so significantly more than his counterparts around the league; are we, as Yankees fans, biased because we see him every night? This is a question we can get at with the help of Baseball Reference and Retrosheet.
In his managerial career, Boone has been tossed 30 times. That leads the majors since 2018, but a lot of managers have come and gone in that period. Still, compared to other skippers who’ve been at the helm of some club or another in each of the past six seasons (including this one), Boone is the clear leader. Among that group of 14, the Brewers’ Craig Counsell comes closest with an even 20.
Meanwhile, the Reds’ David Bell — though he began managing in 2019 — has 23 career ejections. Rick Renteria, who managed the White Sox from 2017-2020, amassed 24 ejections in that short time. Though Renteria’s tosses-per-year figure matches that of the Yankees’ skipper, Boone has done a lot to separate himself from the pack over the past couple of seasons. His four heave-hos lead the league this year, and his nine last season were the most since Hall-of-Famer Bobby Cox reached double digits with an even 10 in 2007.
How does Boone stack up on a per-game basis? He checks in at just under four ejections per 100 games managed. Renteria, if we include his time at the helm of the Cubs as well, notched just over four ejections per 100 games managed. Both men have 30 career ejections; the difference is, Renteria has managed 58 fewer games. At the same time, those two skippers represent two of the most-ejected ever — if we limit the dataset to the 241 men who managed at least 500 games in their careers, Renteria and Boone rank third and fourth, respectively, in ejections per game.
Mind you, ejections began all the way back in 1889, and the top two ejectees were indeed members of bygone eras. Second-ranked Paul Richards managed the White Sox from 1951-54 and again in 1976, sandwiching a stint with the Orioles from 1955-61. He was ejected nearly four and a half times per 100 games. But easily taking the cake in first was Bill Dahlen, who managed the Brooklyn Dodgers/Superbas from 1910-13 and was tossed nearly six times per 100 games. With the first two of those four years coming as a player-manager, it’s safe to say Dahlen was uniquely invested in his team winning; sure enough, he was ejected 21 times in his first two seasons and only 15 times in his last two.
Returning to Boone, given the increase in frequency of his ejections as of late, should we expect him to surpass at least Richards and Renteria — the non-player-managers ahead of him — sometime soon? Well, three ejections in a 10-game span was a new personal record for him, and the recent burst has inflated his per-game total. But before the spree, he went a month without being ejected, which is more standard for the skipper; even within his nine-ejection 2022, Boone had one span of 56 days without being ejected.
Let’s imagine he goes ejection-less for another month, or 25 games, which is entirely plausible given his historical tendencies and what I hope is a desire to avoid another suspension. That would bring his per-100 total down from 3.92 to 3.80, and his rank in the aforementioned list of 241 down from fourth to seventh. To put that number in context, he would fall below David Bell (assuming Bell is ejected at least once in that same timeframe), but remain just ahead of Earl Weaver. Weaver, the longtime and eventual Hall-of-Fame Orioles manager, was well-known for his tirades against the men in blue.
If Boone goes the rest of the season, 105 games, without an ejection, his per-100 total would drop to 3.45 but still hold down 11th place, between the hot-tempered Hall-of-Famer Bobby Cox and Phillies/Padres manager Larry Bowa. Suffice it to say, Boone will have a hard time disassociating himself from his eject-ability, even if he chooses to turn over a new leaf in light of his suspension. Whether he should even bother trying is another story; as front offices around the league continue to encroach upon managers’ ability to determine on-field strategy, Boone can continue to prove his worth by firing his players up.