There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball, which means that there are 30 managers in Major League Baseball. But you already knew that. It is very tough to determine who the best manager in baseball is.
You can look at it in two different ways.
A historical perspective, seeing who is the best manager who is still managing, or a current perspective, who is doing the best job managing right now.
I chose the latter. Anyone could look at some numbers and see who won the most world series to determine who, historically is the best manager. But I wanted to go beneath the numbers and dig deeper.
Throughout this piece, you will hear me say a lot about keeping the team consistent and putting a good team on the field day in and day out. This is the most important part for a manager to have a successful team, and in essence, for a manager to have success.
So while Ozzie Guillen does have a World Series to his name, you won't hear me saying anything about him due to the White Sox inconsistencies, which can be attributed to his sometimes angry, sad, and moody (just a few words) postgame interviews.
Guillen, despite being great at times, is too temperamental to gain eternal success as a baseball great, although he will be remembered for the 2005 World Series forever.
The point I am trying to make is that Ozzie Guillens are never great managers. They will be good but never among the best, the elite in the game. The elite managers are the ones who not only know the game, but can control their players, individually and as a group.
The five guys on this list have demonstrated this ability over an extended period of time. Take a look.
A coming of age, you could call it. Though his Atlanta Braves aren't what they once were, Cox goes high up on this list because of what he has done, and that is recently, also.
Though having a record of just 274-292 since 2006, in the years prior, the Braves were one of the best teams in baseball, and possibly the best team in the National League for the past 10 years.
Cox, like Scioscia, has one World Series to his name, but has been managing for much longer. With 29 years of managerial experience (four with the Blue Jays, 25 with the Braves) and five pennants to his name, Cox is a sure fire Hall of Famer, even though he only has one World Series ring.
He is always into the game, and will always argue a call, which explains the record setting 130+ ejections he has in his career. We love you for it, Bobby.
I would love to put Gardenhire higher on this list, but the fact that he is the only manager on this list who hasn't won a world series is stopping me from it.
I put Gardenhire ahead of Cox on this list because recently, Gardenhire has consistently put a respectable team on the field, despite the extremely low payroll of the Twins.
Gardenhire, year in and year out, has produced a competitive Twins team. Though Gardenhire may not be the greatest manager in baseball, he is my favorite, because of his ability to get players to play the right way, and think the right way, on and off the field.
One time during spring training, Justin Morneau forgot to run with the team after one of the games. When Gardenhire came into his office the next day, he found a $100 bill with a note attached to it.
It read 'I forgot to run sprints. So I'm fining myself." This story clearly sums up the morals and expectations of the Twins team.
Michael Cuddyer says, "With this organization, it teaches and preaches playing the game the right way. They make a point here to run out every ground ball: a one-hopper to the pitcher, and you're running hard. Break up a double play to extend an inning, you do it."
These are the reasons for the success of the Twins, and Ron Gardenhire is the man behind it. A team with one of the lower budgets in baseball, the Twins consistently are competitive in the AL Central, and all of the American League.
Over the last three years, the Twins lost Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, and Carlos Silva. For most teams, losing players with this much ability at one time would essentially put a team in last place, but not the Twins.
They just go to the farm system. Denard Span would take the place of Hunter, and a combination of Kevin Slowey,Scott Baker, Glen Perkins and Nick Blackburn would come to fill the gaps left by Santana, Silva and others.
Gardenhire keeps his team in order, and keeps them playing hard all the time, whether the score is 1-1 or 19-0. That is why Gardenhire is on the list. It seems simple, just keeping guys playing hard all the time, but it is something that can be very tough for many managers to do.
The other thing he does is command all the respect from his players. His players listen and respond to what Gardenhire says to them, which is definitely a positive.
He is a guy who knows what he is doing, and someone who should be higher on this list, but the lack of a ring is the only thing that is stopping me from putting him at No. 2 or 3.
Mike Scioscia is Ron Gardenhire with a little more money at his disposal. Watching the Angels is very similar to watching the Twins. The Angels, first of all (and this is more credit to General Manager Tony Reagins than Scioscia), have have provided Scioscia with a fabulous roster throughout Scioscia's tenure.
With players like Tim Salmon, Troy Glaus, Garret Anderson, Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guererro, Torii Hunter, John Lackey, and Jered Weaver, to name a few, the Angels have thrived.
Including a World Series win in 2002 over the Giants, Scioscia has kept his team competitive nearly every year. In 10 seasons as Angels Manager, Scioscia has only had two seasons under .500, and has had five seasons with over 90 wins.
Scioscia knows the game extremely well, and is one of the best field managers in the game. Underrated, no.
Under appreciated, probably. He is one of the best managers in baseball, and he probably won't end up in Cooperstown, but that doesn't mean that he shouldn't continue to do great things with the Angels, because if he does (at least one more World Series win) he can get himself a trip to Cooperstown.
As a Yankee fan, it kills me not to put Torre at No. 1, (it kills me even more to put the person who is No. 1 at No. 1, and I guess that just gave it away, so why don't I stop with these parentheses?) but he doesn't deserve to be.
That goes without saying how good a job he has done with the Dodgers. They are the best team in baseball, at 51-30, and on pace to have over 100 wins and win the NL West by 13 games.
Though Torre is known for his incredible successes with the Yankees and now the Dodgers, he wasn't always the hall of fame manager he is looked upon to be today.
Of the three teams he manager previous to the Yankees, he had a winning record with just one of them, the Braves.
Torre was floundering around .500 with the Cardinals for six years (354-351), had a strong .529 winning percentage with the Braves (257-229), and had a rough tenure as Mets skipper, with just a .405 winning pct (286-420).
Torre's ideal team, as we have come to know, is taking over a good team that is on the verge of success. The Yankees in 1995 were 79-65 (strike shortened season) and made it to the playoffs for the first time since 1981.
And I don't even need to explain what happened after that. (if you don't know, it's four world series wins, and six appearances in the Fall Classic) Torre takes good teams and makes them great, and the Dodgers were a very good team before Torre took over, and as we see, the 2009 Dodgers are showing flashes of the late '90s Yankees.
If I am making this list 10 years ago, Torre is obviously the clear-cut No. 1 guy. But this isn't 1999, so there is one other guy who is better than Torre.
This is tough. It is hard to do. I am a diehard Yankee fan, and it is incredibly tough to put Francona, the Red Sox manager No. 1, and it makes it even harder to do considering I'm putting him directly over Joe Torre, a Yankee great.
Either way, this list isn't about who is the best manager overall, it's about who has been the best in recent years. It's about who is the best manager. And as of right now, Francona is the best manager.
After an incredibly unsuccessful four-year run with the Phillies, (285-363, .440 winning pct.) Francona made a quick impact with the Red Sox in 2004, winning the first World Series in Boston in 86 years.
Then, three years later, he picked up another World Series win. Since 2004, the Sox have been one of the most competitive teams in the league.
Of course, much of this credit goes to Theo Epstein (and some credit to Bill James) for the signings of David Ortiz, Coco Crisp, Mark Loretta, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Jason Bay and knowing when to get rid of guys such as Manny Ramirez and Trot Nixon at the right time.
Francona is not only one of the best field managers, but demands and receives the uttermost respect from all of his players. He is No. 1 because for the last five years because he has put one of the best teams on the field every day.
Francona knows how to manage tough players (Manny) and knows how to take advantage of talent. (David Ortiz would not be the same player he is known as today if it weren't for being before Manny for the last six years) Terry Francona isn't the best manager because he won two world series in six years, it's because he put his team in a position to be there.
His players trusted him, and they knew that he was someone worth playing hard for every day. That is what makes a great manager, and Terry has it in him.
Thats why he's No. 1.
P.S.: I have been dropping a hint all along to tell you that Francona is No. 1. If you notice in all of the pictures of the managers, they are all wearing team jackets, not uniforms.
If you don't already know, Francona is well known for wearing these jackets, and was once ejected from a game for not wearing a uniform. If you didn't pick up on that, or the trickery I used putting a very old picture of Joe Torre in the opening slide, then you just had to read the whole thing to find out who was No. 1.
Wasn't that bad, was it?
Tony LaRussa Cardinals
Jim Leyland Tigers
Lou Pinella Cubs
Dusty Baker Reds
Cito Gaston Blue Jays
It may sound repetitive, but the aspect of all of these managers that puts them on the list is that they manage a team that is prepared day in and day out. All five of these teams (talking about the top five list) have that aspect, and it is due to their managers.
These guys have proved that among the 30 managers in the league, they stand out as the best. Not as the best ever, but as of right now, the guys who can get a team going in the right direction.
Think about the list in this way. "If you wanted one manager to start a team with, who would it be?" Many would say Torre, and I deeply considered it, but the way the Sox have played recently, (recently meaning the last five years) Francona made sense.
If you disagree, which you might, please comment, your criticisms are appreciated.