The Top 10 Major League Teams That Are Most Dependent on Their Managers

Eric MatulaContributor IIOctober 29, 2012

The Top 10 Major League Teams That Are Most Dependent on Their Managers

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    There are some teams that rely on their coach more than others.

    While I believe that coaches earn too much credit and receive too much blame, there are some managers who really do make a difference.

    Some managers know how to get the best out of their players. Most of the managers on this list come from teams with low payrolls, proving these guys know how to deliver success without a big bank.

    Here's a list that ranks the top 10 teams that rely on their manager.

No. 10: Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians

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    Last year's record: N/A

    Experience: 13 years

    After taking a year off from managing, Terry Francona will be putting a baseball uniform on again in 2013. This time he'll lead the Cleveland Indians.

    Francona freed the Red Sox from the Curse of the Bambino, and now he'll be in charge of erasing the 48-year drought of championship-less seasons in Cleveland.

    The Indians have been awful lately. They've been under .500 for four straight seasons, tallying a 282-366 record in that span.

    Francona is a good manager and he'll have a couple young, bright stars to work with (Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis). Don't expect the Indians to win it all, but expect an improvement with Francona at the helm.

No. 9: Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Last year's record: 79-83

    Experience: 10 years

    While the Pittsburgh Pirates haven't had a winning season in 20 years, Clint Hurdle is returning them back to respectability.

    In the three seasons before Hurdle got to Pittsburgh, the Pirates went 186-299. Over the last two years, the Buccos are 151-173. While that's not great, it's still a .082 improvement in winning percentage.

    Hurdle doesn't have the best track record, but he did lead a Colorado Rockies team to the World Series in 2007. He obviously knows how to manage a small market team.

    Hurdle is on the brink of getting the Pirates over .500. With a crop of young players poised to be stars (Starling Marte, Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole), look for the Pirates to end the drought in 2013.

No. 8: Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox

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    Last year's record: 85-77

    Experience: 1 year

    It was a surprise when Robin Ventura was named Chicago White Sox manager. But the job he did in 2012 was even more surprising.

    The White Sox were 79-83 in 2011 and were a complete mess under skipper Ozzie Guillen.

    Ventura came in and cleaned everything up. Yes, the White Sox collapsed in the final weeks of the season, but nobody expected them to be in the position of choking.

    As a rookie manager, Ventura helped the Sox score 94 more runs, give up 30 fewer runs and win six more games all while being in contention of winning the AL Central.

No. 7: Kirk Gibson, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Last year's record: 81-81

    Experience: 3 years

    Kirk Gibson has the Diamondbacks playing better than expected. The D-backs failed to reach the playoffs in 2012, but Gibson had his team in contention.

    In the two-and-a-half seasons before Gibson took over, the Diamondbacks were 166-237 and finished in last place in the NL West.

    Gibson made an impact. Since taking over for A.J. Hinch in 2010, Gibson has led the D-backs to a 209-198 record. That's a .102 difference in winning percentage in just two seasons.

    Playing better than expected is always a sign of a manager doing his job. The Diamondbacks have made a nice resurgence following Gibson's hiring. 

No. 6: Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Last year's record: 83-79

    Experience: 2 years

    Exit Prince Fielder. Exit Zack Greinke. Exit Brewers? You would think that the Milwaukee Brewers were destined to fade, but Ron Roenicke didn't let that happen.

    The Brewers missed Fielder, who went on to hit .313 with 30 homers with the Tigers and traded Greinke, who went 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA for the Angels.

    The Brew Crew has a pretty high payroll (10th overall) and a couple superstars (Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez), but Roenicke made the Brewers relevant in 2012 when not many expected it.

    Roenicke doesn't have much managerial experience, but he has shown he can keep a team competitive when his star players leave.

     

     

No. 5: Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals

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    Last year's record: 98-64

    Experience: 16 years

    After being under .500 for seven of the last eight years, Davey Johnson and the Washington Nationals won an MLB-best 98 games and earned the No. 1 seed in the National League this year.

    Despite having a few superstars on the team, the Nationals still ranked in the lower third of payroll (20th overall).

    Johnson has proved time and time again that he knows how to manage. He coached the Mets, Reds, Orioles and Dodgers and always put them in contention.

    Johnson took over for the Nats halfway through last season and managed the team to an 18-win improvement this season.

No. 4: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants

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    Last year's record: 94-68

    Experience: 18 years

    The San Francisco Giants won their second World Series in three years, and Bruce Bochy found a way to get his team back to the top.

    Bochy has been exposed to adversity over the last couple years, but he was able to keep his squad focused.

    Last season, All-Star catcher and MVP-candidate Buster Posey missed 117 games and the Giants still won 86 games. This year, Melky Cabrera (who was hitting .346 with 11 homers) was suspended for testing positive for PEDs.

    Additionally, Tim Lincecum had an awful year, but Bochy put him in the bullpen for the playoffs and he was lights-out.

    It's hard to say that the Giants would be where they are without Bochy.

No. 3: Bob Melvin, Oakland A's

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    Last year's record: 94-68

    Experience: 9 years

    It takes talent to take a team with the second-lowest payroll and win the second-most games in the American League, and that's exactly what Bob Melvin did with the Oakland A's this season.

    The A's paid $589,069 per win this season. Meanwhile, the Yankees paid $2,083,813 for each win.

    Mark Grace dubbed Melvin as "the mad scientist" when he was manager of the Diamondbacks, and it looks like his experiments worked perfectly in Oakland this year. Melvin also transformed the D-backs in his first season with them in 2005. He saw his team win 30 more games in his first season.

    There are no superstars on the A's roster and the oldest pitcher in the starting rotation coming down the stretch was 25 years old. The A's clearly thrive under Melvin's direction.

No. 2: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Last year's record: 90-72

    Experience: 9 years

    Since 2008, Joe Maddon has averaged 91.6 wins per season with the Tampa Bay Rays. During that same span, the Rays have had an average payroll of less than 60 million per year.

    Maddon is in a position to fail year in and year out, but he continues to keep the Rays in contention.

    You look at Maddon's track record and you realize this isn't a fluke anymore. Maddon knows exactly what he's doing.

    Maddon's theories and strategies might be a little quirky and different from the baseball norm, but he knows how to push the right buttons.

No. 1: Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles

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    Last year's record: 93-69

    Experience: 14 years

    Buck Showalter did a terrific job with the Baltimore Orioles in 2012. After finishing 69-93 in 2011, the Orioles went 93-69 in 2012 and pushed the Yankees to the limit down the stretch and in the ALDS.

    The O's fell short in the playoffs, but it was the first time the Orioles were in the postseason since 1997.

    From 1998 to 2010 (before Showalter took over), the Orioles were 887-1160 (.433). But Showalter is 196-185 in two-and-a-half years

    Showalter has an obvious impact. He was able to return the Yankees to respectability in the early 1990s and helped build the Arizona Diamondbacks in the late 90s.