Ken Oberkfell has been managing in the minor leagues for fourteen years, which is kind of insane. He managed at the Single-A and High-A levels for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997-2000, and then jumped to the Mets organization in 2001. He has managed at the Single-A, High-A, and Double-A levels before settling in as the Mets Triple-A manager since 2005. He was briefly the Mets first base coach during the second half of 2008, after Willie Randolph was fired in the classless Mets midnight massacre rally to restore fear and insanity. I have no idea why Oberkfell has never been given a chance to manage or coach at the major league level somewhere — fourteen years is a long time. He winds up with a 42 on my managerial experience scale, right near Chip Hale and Dave Jauss. He’s the dark horse in the race, but that’s only because no one knows anything about him. Seriously. There’s nothing to say about this guy.
Actually, he has a mustache. So there’s that I guess. While we’re on this topic, here’s a brief guide to managerial descriptions you might read and what those descriptions say about the manager’s physical appearance:
- Cerebral = “wears glasses.”
- Fiery = “has mustache.”
- Steady = “fat and/or old.”
- Colorful = “Ozzie Guillen”
Oberkfell spent sixteen years in the major leagues, eight with St. Louis and five with Atlanta. He was an underappreciated on-base machine and good fielder at third base for the Cardinals in the early 80s, hitting .296 with a .368 on-base percentage between 1979 and 1983. Oberkfell was worth 19.1 wins above replacement during his career, easily making him the best player among the Mets in-house managerial candidates.
Oberkfell is an odd duck when it comes to strategy, as well as surname consonant placement. He loves bunting, but almost never issues intentional walks. He’s had mostly slow teams at the AAA level, so it’s difficult to gauge how aggressive his teams are on the base paths, but the answer tends to be “not very.” I’ll give him a 6 on my manager strategy scale, which is middling. Bunts are bad, but disdain for the free pass is good.
And that’s really all there is to say about Oberkfell. His only experience coaching with a major league team was a few months in 2008, and the Mets sent him back to Triple-A after the season. If there are players who find themselves labeled quad-A — too good for the minors but not good enough for the majors — then Oberkfell might be the managerial equivalent of that. It’s hard to figure out what his deal is, and why he’s been stuck at Triple-A for six seasons.
Managerial Odds: 12 to 1. Oberkfell has been around for so long that he must have some clue what he’s doing. But there also must be some reason he’s never been seriously considered before. Or maybe the timing has never been right. Who knows. Oberkfell is a man of mystery.