The Tampa Bay Rays have one of the top skippers in the big leagues.
Who is the best manager in baseball?
Setting the starting lineup, aligning the pitching staff, making decisions late in games regarding relievers, pinch-hitters and defensive replacements can all make or break managers. Making the wrong move can result in a loss and more often than not, losses result in getting fired at some point down the line.
So of today’s managers, who is the best and who is the worst? Here, we’re going to take a glance by power ranking each of them.
In this article the managers were ranked based off five categories:
- Career winning percentage
- Average finish within respective division
- Number of postseasons compared to number of seasons
- Number of World Series titles and Manager of the Year awards
- My personal opinions
The five categories weren’t weighted equally, though, because tenured managers who failed 10-plus years ago, but have been great recently would be penalized more than they deserve. Therefore, I weighted my opinions 40 percent and the other four categories 15 percent apiece.
Obviously this is not a perfect system, but it is one way of determining which managers are better than others. So let’s jump right into the rankings, analyzing what helped and hurt each manager along the way.
*All statistics in this article were obtained via Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
In order for the managers to be properly ranked, some of them had to be removed because of small sample sizes.
Managers who made their debuts last season or this season were not accounted for because their results would skew the rest of the data.
I figured that managers entering their third year in 2013 would be fair to include, but that is still certainly up for debate. There are, however, only four managers in their third years and only one in particular has had much success.
Walt Weiss, Colorado Rockies: Managing the Colorado Rockies probably has a bit more perks than managing a high school team. Just ask Walt Weiss, who is in his first season with the Rockies and thus far, has been very successful. Colorado is currently one of the better teams in the National League through the early parts of the season. Weiss is definitely off to a great start to his career, but it’ll be interesting to see how long the Rockies can stay out of the red.
Mike Redmond, Miami Marlins: Mike Redmond signed on to one of the toughest jobs in Major League Baseball: managing the Miami Marlins. Owner Jeffrey Loria does pretty much whatever he wants with the club and hasn’t given Redmond the personnel necessary to win consistently. Giancarlo Stanton was the team’s only hope and he’s currently on the 15-day disabled list. The Marlins have some young talent that might improve Miami’s playoff hopes within the next couple of seasons.
Bo Porter, Houston Astros: After leaving the Washington Nationals over the offseason in order to take over the Houston Astros, Bo Porter hasn’t been a part of much success. Although it’s still very early in the season, the Astros are one of the worst teams in baseball and haven’t shown many signs of life. Porter knew what he was getting himself into, though, and maybe the next few years will be more positive than negative.
Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals: Mike Matheny was very successful in his first year calling the shots for the St. Louis Cardinals. His Cardinals finished 2012 with an 88-74 record, a second place finish within the NL Central and a postseason berth. St. Louis didn’t make it very far into the playoffs, but it was still a good year considering it was Matheny’s first as a manager and the first year without Albert Pujols. Expect Matheny to be even better in his second year with the club.
Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox: Robin Ventura managed a very average Chicago White Sox team last season, finishing his rookie season as a skipper with a .511 winning percentage. Chicago failed to make the postseason, but with aging stars, that shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Now with a year under his belt from the bench, Ventura should be able to learn from his mistakes from 2012 and turn the White Sox back into playoff contenders.
25. Ned Yost, Kansas City Royals: While Ned Yost has had extended chances to succeed with both the Kansas City Royals and formerly with the Milwaukee Brewers, he just hasn’t had much success.
His teams have only finished better than third place in the division twice and he currently has a .468 career winning percentage. The Royals are off to a good start this season at 17-10, but we’ll have to wait and see if Yost can finally manage a division winner.
24. Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates: Clint Hurdle has really managed a number of poor teams over the course of his managerial career. He coached the Colorado Rockies for eight seasons and although he made it to the World Series in 2007, he finished his career there with a .461 winning percentage and just one finish above third place in the NL West. Now managing the Pittsburgh Pirates, Hurdle has failed to get the club into the postseason the last two seasons.
23. John Gibbons, Toronto Blue Jays: John Gibbons is currently getting his second shot with the Toronto Blue Jays and although it’s his first year back, it was his previous experience that hurt him in these rankings. Gibbons was with Toronto from 2004 through 2008 and didn’t have much success at all. He only had a winning percentage above .500 in two of the five seasons he was there. This season, Toronto is already one of baseball’s biggest disappointments at 11-21.
22. John Farrell, Boston Red Sox: John Farrell is only in his third season as a big league manager, but his first two seasons have left something to be desired. Leaving the Boston Red Sox to manage the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2011, Farrell went 81-81 in his first season. Then last season, Farrell’s Blue Jays went 73-89. Toronto traded him to Boston over the offseason to manage the Red Sox, where he’s gotten off to a great start at 20-11. Still, he’ll need some more success to move up into the top 20.
21. Bud Black, San Diego Padres: Bud Black has only had one good season as a manager and that came back in 2010. Over the course of his managerial career, which has been with the San Diego Padres, Black hasn’t been impressive. He holds a career .475 winning percentage over the course of six-plus seasons and has never made the postseason. His Padres have only finished above .500 twice under his watch and have failed to win more than 76 games four times.
20. Dale Sveum, Chicago Cubs: So here we are, our first glitch in my system. In all honesty, Sveum should probably be ranked No. 25 among current managers, but that’s clearly not the case.
Why, you ask? Because Sveum managed the final 12 games of the 2008 season for the Milwaukee Brewers, he got credit for their playoff appearance—instead of Ned Yost. He has a career .385 winning percentage, which is the worst among active managers. He doesn’t even deserve to be this high.
19. Terry Collins, New York Mets: Three years seem to be the charm for Terry Collins. But I don’t mean that it usually takes Collins three years to do anything special. It usually takes three years for him to get fired. Collins managed the Houston Astros and Anaheim Angels for three years apiece back in the 90’s and never had a ton of success. Now with the New York Mets, Collins is once again failing and 2013 might be his last shot. His Mets haven’t finished above fourth place under his watch.
18. Eric Wedge, Seattle Mariners: Eric Wedge was the manager of the Cleveland Indians from 2003 through 2009, back when they were somewhat good. He led them to a first-place finish in the AL Central back in 2007, the only year he’s ever been in the postseason. The last two seasons, he’s managed the Seattle Mariners. Unfortunately for Wedge, Seattle has finished well below .500 in each and is currently three games under .500 to start this season. It may be a while before he manages in October again.
17. Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers: I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Don Mattingly wasn’t the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014. Through his first two-plus seasons at the helm of the team, the Dodgers haven’t been that great. They went 82-79 under his watch in 2011 and despite going 86-76 last season, Los Angeles still missed the postseason. Now, the Dodgers have an abundance of talent on the roster, but still aren’t succeeding. Through the early parts of this season, Los Angeles is 13-17.
16. Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves: Fredi Gonzalez is one of the managers on this list that’s on the rise. Although he never had much success managing the Florida Marlins for three-plus seasons, his time with the Atlanta Braves has been a different story. Since taking over for Bobby Cox, Gonzalez has had a .568 winning percentage with the Braves and took them to the playoffs last season. The Braves look like one of the teams to beat this year too, which could bump him up a few spots here.
15. Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics: Bob Melvin his coached on the West Coast throughout his entire career, having stints with the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks and now with the Oakland Athletics.
He has never been a consistent winning coach, but does have a .504 career winning percentage. Melvin was the one who helped the A’s sneak into the postseason last season and currently has them in second place in the AL West this season. He could turn his career around with Oakland.
14. Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles: Buck Showalter has been around the block, managing on and off since 1992, when he got his first big league gig with the New York Yankees. While he went 582-313 with New York, he was never able to win a World Series there. He did, however, win the Manager of the Year Award in 1994.
He won 100 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks back in 1999, but that didn’t go anywhere, either. Now with the Baltimore Orioles, Showalter has a good, young team that might eventually be able to get him his first championship ring.
13. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants: I know exactly what you’re thinking: How does the manager of two of the last three World Series champions end up as No. 13? Well, it’s mainly because Bruce Bochy hasn’t had the best career as a manager.
He was with the San Diego Padres for 12 years and had a .494 winning percentage, finishing above third place in the division just four times. His first two years with the San Francisco Giants weren’t great, but the last four-plus years have been impressive to say the least.
12. Kirk Gibson, Arizona Diamondbacks: Although Kirk Gibson hasn’t been that great in his first three-plus seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he still comes in at No. 12. He’s only finished above .500 in one of his first three seasons as a big league manager, but did make the playoffs once and won the 2011 Manager of the Year Award, which helped his case here.
His .514 career winning percentage is far from the top, but with a young Arizona club, that could surely improve in the coming years.
11. Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers: No matter how well or poorly a team plays, it’s impressive to see someone manage big league baseball for 22 seasons. Jim Leyland is currently in his 22nd season as manager, having spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies and now the Detroit Tigers.
He won a title with the Marlins in 1997, but that’s the only championship he has. Recently, the Tigers have been one of the best teams in baseball, but he still has a .504 career winning percentage, which hurt his case for the top 10.
10. Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays: Despite getting the No. 1 ranking from yours truly, that still wasn’t enough to get Joe Maddon out of the No. 10 spot overall.
Maddon is arguably the smartest manager in baseball, but just hasn’t had enough successful seasons yet. Yes, he’s turned the Tampa Bay Rays from pretenders to contenders, but has only made the playoffs three times. His pair of Manager of the Year Awards and World Series appearance in 2008 helped his case here.
9. Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee Brewers: Ron Roenicke is arguably the most successful of the third-year managers and that’s why he’s No. 9 on this list. He managed the Milwaukee Brewers to a 96-66 record in his rookie season, as well as a first-place NL Central finish and postseason appearance.
Last season, Milwaukee missed the postseason after going 83-79 and finishing third. I personally think that Roenicke has been relatively average, but the small sample size somewhat skewed his ranking. He probably deserves to be more toward No. 15.
8. Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians: Terry Francona would be much higher on this list if he never managed the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997 through 2000. He finished in fifth place three times with the Phillies and won just 44 percent of his games.
With the Boston Red Sox, though, he won a pair of World Series and nearly won 1,300 games in eight seasons before getting fired after 2011. Francona will attempt to enhance his resume with the Cleveland Indians, who are 14-14 this year.
7. Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds: Dusty Baker has had a great career and 2013 is his 20th as a big league manager. Despite being in the league for so long, Baker is still seeking his first World Series championship. Could 2013 finally be the year?
Baker coached the San Francisco Giants from 1993 to 2002 and had varied success. The Chicago Cubs weren’t very good when he coached them from 2003 through 2006. He’s managed the Cincinnati Reds since 2008, but has yet to win anything special. The Reds have finished first in the NL Central in two of the last three seasons.
6. Ron Washington, Texas Rangers: The Texas Rangers have to be very happy to have Ron Washington running their club. Washington has been very successful since taking the job in 2007. Since then, the Rangers have finished first or second in the AL West five times.
Twice he’s won the AL pennant, but has yet to win the required four games in the World Series. Washington has a career .538 winning percentage and has made the postseason a trio of times. In order to get into the top five, Washington will likely need a ring or a Manager of the Year Award.
Remember when the Minnesota Twins used to be the team to beat in the AL Central? I bet that Ron Gardenhire remembers it like it was yesterday, especially since his Twins haven’t been playing well over the last few seasons.
When Johan Santana was still with Minnesota and Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were considered two of the top players in the game, the Twins were nearly unstoppable. Since Gardenhire was hired in 2002, Minnesota has finished in first place in the AL Central six times up until 2011. ,
But then Santana was gone and Mauer and Morneau couldn’t stay healthy. Over the last two seasons, the Twins have failed to win more than 66 games in a season.
The past two years have easily been the worst of Gardenhire’s career. But can he get them back to being great again? He probably has a few seasons left with the club and should get the opportunity to prove himself yet again.
The Philadelphia Phillies were rather pedestrian last season—finishing the year at an even 81-81—which may have some fans thinking that Charlie Manuel’s time as skipper should be over. But let’s not forget how much he has accomplished.
Last season was the only time in Manuel’s career with the Phillies and second time ever in his entire career that his team didn’t finish first or second in the division. Since getting hired by Philadelphia, Manuel has a .558 winning percentage, five NL East crowns, a pair of NL pennants and one World Series championship. That’s nothing to scoff at to say the least.
When Manuel took the job with the Phillies, he had players that were just getting hot and entering their primes such as Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. As those players continue to age and fight off injuries, Philadelphia hasn’t played well.
Manuel hasn’t really been able to make the most of what he has lately. Another third-place finish—or potentially worse—could be in the works for Manuel this year.
The Los Angeles Angels have been one of the better teams in baseball over the last decade and a lot of that credit has to go to the man who’s managed the club: Mike Scioscia. Scioscia has been stellar in nearly every season since getting the job.
Since 2000, when Scioscia was hired, the Angels have finished over .500 10 times. Los Angeles has topped the AL West on five occasions and it even defeated the San Francisco Giants in the 2002 World Series, the team’s only championship under Scioscia.
The last few years have been different, though, and Scioscia now might be on the hot seat, according to Peter Barzilai of USA Today.
The problem is that the Angels have signed a lot of big-name talent the last two seasons and have nothing to show for it. Last offseason, the Angels signed Albert Pujols and finished the season at 89-73, missing the postseason.
This winter, Los Angeles signed Josh Hamilton and is 11-19 to start the 2013 season.
It’s not easy to win a Manager of the Year Award after your team finishes fourth in the division with a 78-84 record. But somehow, Joe Girardi pulled that off back in 2006 with the Florida Marlins, his first and only season with the team.
After getting fired by Florida, Girardi didn’t manage in 2007, but was then hired to manage his old club, the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers went 89-73 in his first season at the helm and finished third in the AL East. Since then, the Yankees have yet to miss the postseason, winning the World Series in 2009. Girardi’s Yankees haven’t won fewer than 95 games since 2008.
While many may not agree with Girardi landing the No. 2 spot on this list, it’s understandable that he’s underrated. He manages the highest paid team in baseball. But as we’ve recently seen, just because a team’s payroll is high doesn’t mean that a team will be successful. Girardi deserves a lot of credit for the success his teams have had.
Despite managing for now more than 16 seasons, Davey Johnson has a very high winning percentage at .563, the second highest among current managers. Teams managed by Johnson have only finished under .500 four times.
Johnson also ranked second in average finish within the division at 1.9—winning the division six times in his career. Johnson has one World Series ring (1986) and has been awarded the Manager of the Year Award twice, including last season when his Washington Nationals went 98-64 during the regular season.
Although Johnson is one of the older managers in baseball—currently 70 years old—he’s still one of the best. He has a young, but very talented team that he now runs and it appears that he’ll finish his managerial career with one of the better teams in baseball.
Johnson will surely be missed after this season as he plans to retire after 2013 concludes, according to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post.