Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and The Top 100 Major League Managers Of All Time

Asher ChanceySenior Analyst IOctober 20, 2010

Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and The Top 100 Major League Managers Of All Time

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    The 2010 season will go down in baseball history for what will be perhaps the biggest loss of managerial talent the game has ever suffered in a single year.

    We now know that Tony La Russa will be back with the Cardinals next year, but that only means the damage is being contained; Major League Baseball will nevertheless begin next season without managerial icons Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, or Lou Piniella.

    With Charlie Manuel not getting any younger, and Jim Leyland and Cito Gaston looking just plain tired at the end of last season, who knows where the carnage will end?

    To commemorate the retirement of three legendary forces inside the clubhouse, we take a look at the Top 100 Major League Managers of All Time.

100. Yogi Berra (1964-1985)

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    Total Seasons: Seven

    Record: 484-444 (.522)

    Teams: New York Yankees, New York Mets, New York Yankees

    Highlights: 1 AL Pennant, 1 NL Pennant

    You know, Yogi's a neat guy, one of the greatest catchers of all time, and a hilarious caricature of a ballplayer.

    But it sure is difficult to find quotes that talk about what a great manager he was.

99. Birdie Tebbetts (1954-1966)

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    Total Seasons: 11

    Record: 748-705 (.515)

    Teams: Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Braves, Cleveland Indians

    Highlights: 4 winning seasons

    A venerable old sage, Birdie Tebbetts was well liked and well respected around baseball. He was never given much to work with, but he didn't do much with it, either.

98. Joe Girardi (2006-2010)

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    Total Seasons: Four

    Record: 365-283 (.563)

    Teams: Florida Marlins, New York Yankees

    Highlights: 1 Pennant, 1 World Series title

    Obviously, the jury is still out on this guy. Let's see how the 2010 postseason treats him. He should move up from this spot quite rapidly over the next five years or so.

97. Rogers Hornsby (1925-1953)

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    Total Seasons: 14

    Record: 701-812 (.463)

    Teams: St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, Boston Braves, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Browns, Cincinnati Reds

    Highlights: 1 Pennants, 1 World Series title

    What kind of manager was Rogers Hornsby?

    Let's ask Jimmy Dugan:

96. Herman Franks (1965-1979)

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    Total Seasons: Seven

    Record: 605-521 (.537)

    Teams: San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs

    Highlights: 5 winning seasons

    Herman Franks managed the San Francisco Giants to four straight second-place finishes from 1965-1968, then was out of baseball for nearly 10 years before being brought on by the Cubs in 1977.

    By the time he spent three years with the Cubs, he was ready for Social Security.

95. Larry Dierker (1997-2001)

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    Total Seasons: Five

    Record: 435-348 (.556)

    Teams: Houston Astros

    Highlights: Four division titles

    Someday someone will have to explain to me how Larry Dierker won four division titles in five years with the Houston Astros and never sniffed another managerial position after 2001 at the age of 54.

94. Patsy Tebeau (1890-1900)

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    Total Seasons: 11

    Record: 726-583 (.555)

    Teams: Cleveland Infants (PL), Cleveland Spiders (NL), St. Louis Perfectos/Cardinals

    Highlights: 1 First place Finish

    Riddle me this, Tebeau: how does a manager whose team finishes higher than third just three times in 14 years finish 143 games over .500 for his career?


93. Don Zimmer (1972-1991)

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    Total Seasons: 13

    Record: 885-858 (.508)

    Teams: San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs

    Highlights: 1989 NL East Division winner

    The iconic image of Don Zimmer is not of Zim in any of his managerial uniforms, but rather of Zim in his role as the bench coach of the New York Yankees.

    (Actually, the lasting image in my mind is of Pedro Martinez grabbing Zimmer by the head and throwing him to the ground like he was on fire.)

    Zimmer actually had some success with the perpetually helpless Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. Zim was essentially the Grady Little of the 1970s, leading the Sox to 90-plus wins three years in a row from 1977 to 1979, and missing the playoffs by 2.5 games in 1977 and by the length of a Bucky Dent home run in 1978.

    In 1989, he led the Cubs to a very rare playoff appearance.

92. Ed Barrow (1903-1920)

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    Total Seasons: Five

    Record: 310-320 (.492)

    Teams: Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox

    Highlights: 1 Pennant, 1 World Series title

    The Curse of the Bambino could just as well be called the Curse of Ed Barrow. After managing the Boston Red Sox to the 1918 World Series title, Barrow left the Red Sox when owner Harry Frazee started wildly selling assets and players.

    Barrow joined the Yankees and laid the foundation for the scouting, player signing, player development, and player theft that have become the calling card of the Yankees franchise for the last 90 years.

    Barrow is credited with discovering Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and perhaps even Honus Wagner.

91. Sam Mele (1961-1967)

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    Total Seasons: Seven

    Record: 524-436 (.546)

    Teams: Minnesota Twins

    Highlights: 1 AL Pennant

    Sam Mele had a rather good run in Minnesota in the 1960s, topping 89 wins four times in seven years and winning the 1965 AL Pennant.

90. Mike Hargrove (1991-2007)

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    Total Seasons: 16

    Record: 1188-1173 (.503)

    Teams: Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners

    Highlights: 5 Division titles, 2 Pennants

    Mike Hargrove enjoyed an unprecedented run of success with a Cleveland Indians team loaded with talent, but the patience of the front office wore thin after his third early exit in four years in 1999, and Hargrove was fired after winning 97 games.

    Hargrove never recaptured the magic in Baltimore or Seattle, and may now be most well known for retiring just under halfway into the season with the Mariners 12 games over .500 at 45-33.

89. Bill Rigney (1956-1976)

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    Total Seasons: 18

    Record: 1239-1321 (.484)

    Teams: New York/San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles/California Angels, Minnesota Twins

    Highlights: 1 Division title

    A solid manager who won a division title with the Twins in 1970, whose teams were rarely terrible, and who never really did anything of distinction.

88. Walter Johnson (1929-1935)

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    Total Seasons: Seven

    Record: 529-432 (.550)

    Teams: Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians

    Highlights: Three straight 90-win seasons

    From 1930-1932, the Washington Senators won 90 or more games three years in a row for the first time, under Walter Johnson.

    The next manager in franchise history to accomplish that feat would be Ron Gardenhire (Twins).

87. Buck Rodgers (1980-1994)

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    Total Seasons: 13

    Record: 784-774 (.503)

    Teams: Milwaukee Brewers, Montreal Expos, California Angels

    Buck Rodgers had a very talented 1985 Montreal Expos team that featured Bryn Smith, Bill Gullickson, and Joe Hesketh, plus a young-and-good looking Floyd Youmans, in the starting rotation, along with Gary Lucas, Tim Burke and Jeff Reardon in the bullpen.

    The offense featured Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Hubie Brooks, Tim Wallach and a young Andres Galarraga.

    The 1985 Expos finished seven games over .500 and looked to be full of promise. In two years, the pitching fell apart, Dawson was winning the NL MVP in Chicago, and the Expos would be a mess for years to come.

    And that was as close to franchise success as Buck Rodgers would come in his managerial career.

86. Art Howe (1989-2004)

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    Total Seasons: 14

    Record: 1129-1137 (.498)

    Teams: Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, New York Mets

    Highlights: 2 Division titles, 1 Wild Card

    Art Howe was the manager of the Oakland A's during the height of the Moneyball phenomenon. He capitalized on that success with a big-money contract in New York with the Mets, and lasted two seasons.

85. Phil Garner (1992-2007)

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    Total Seasons: 15

    Record: 985-1054 (.483)

    Teams: Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros

    Highlights: 1 NL Pennant

    Phil Garner was handed lots of lemons during his managerial career, taking over Milwaukee just when big-market vs. small-market was beginning to matter, taking over the Detroit Tigers at a time when their farm system had bottomed out, and taking over an aging Astros team that he managed to squeak into the World Series in 2005 after a seven-game NLCS loss to the Cardinals in 2004.

84. Danny Ozark (1973-1984)

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    Total Seasons: Eight

    Record: 618-542 (.533)

    Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants

    Highlights: 3 Division titles

    The Andy Reid of baseball in the 1970s, Danny Ozark got fired in 1979 after winning three straight division titles, including consecutive years of 101 wins, but failing to get past the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS either year.

    The year after the Phillies fired Ozark, they won the first World Series in franchise history.

83. Lou Boudreau (1942-1960)

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    Total Seasons: 16

    Record: 1162-1224 (.487)

    Teams: Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Athletics, Chicago Cubs

    Highlights: 1 AL Pennant, 1 World Series

    Appointed player/manager of the Cleveland Indians at the young age of 24, in 1948 Lou Boudreau became one of only two men to coax a World Series title out of the Cleveland Indians in the 110 years of their existence, the other being Tris Speaker.

82. Frankie Frisch (1933-1951)

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    Total Seasons: 16

    Record: 1138-1078 (.514)

    Teams: St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs

    Highlights: 1 NL Pennant, 1 World Series title

    Frankie Frisch was a Hall of Fame second baseman who also served as player/manager of the mighty St. Louis Cardinals in the mid-1930s.

    After his playing career, he enjoyed some solid years managing the Pittsburgh Pirates, and then some not-so-solid years with the Chicago Cubs.

81. Jimmy Dykes (1934-1961)

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    Total Seasons: 21

    Record: 1406-1541 (.477)

    Teams: Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Redlegs, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians

    Highlights: Winning 80 games a lot.

    Dykes must have been a freaking charismatic dude, because he lasted in Major League Baseball for 21 seasons without ever finishing higher than third place in any season. 

80. Roger Craig (1978-1992)

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    Total Seasons: 10

    Record: 738-737 (.500)

    Teams: San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants

    Highlights: 1 NL Pennant

    In 1989, my favorite football team's nemesis was the San Francisco 49ers, which featured a running back named Roger Craig, while my favorite baseball team played the San Francisco Giants, who were managed by Roger Craig, in the playoffs.

    Talk about two weird guys to have the same name in the same city; they could not have been less similar. It would be like Stephen Jackson and Tony La Russa having the same name.

79. Clark Griffith (1901-1920)

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    Total Seasons: 20

    Record: 1491-1367 (.522)

    Teams: Chicago White Sox, New York Highlanders (Yankees), Cincinnati Reds, Washington Senators

    Highlights: 1 Pennant

    Clark Griffith guided the Chicago White Sox to the first-ever American League pennant in 1901, and then that was it. He won 90 or more games four times without ever getting back to the playoffs.

    Nevertheless, Griffith became the patron saint of the Washington Senators, as he became the controlling interest owner and the Senators played in a stadium bearing his name.  

    When he died in 1955, the Senators' days in Washington were numbered.

78. Joe Cronin (1933-1947)

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    Total Seasons: 15

    Record: 1236-1055 (.540)

    Teams: Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox

    Highlights: 2 AL Pennants

    Joe Cronin spent all but one season as a player/manager, and given that he was one of the all-time greatest shortstops, I'd say he had an advantage having himself as a player.

    He also had a pretty amazing lineup in addition to himself; during his time with the Red Sox he had Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Dom DiMaggio, amongst others.

77. John McNamara (1969-1996)

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    Total Seasons: 19

    Record: 1160-1233 (.485)

    Teams: Oakland A's, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, California Angels, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, California Angels

    Highlights: 1 AL Pennant

    McNamara managed the Oakland A's on the precipice of three straight World Series titles, in the aftermath of the Big Red Machine, and the Boston Red Sox in the bottom of the 10th of Game 6 of the World Series when he opted not to take Bill Buckner out as a defensive substitution.

    That's just what you call bad luck.

76. Tris Speaker (1919-1926)

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    Total Seasons: Eight

    Record: 617-520 (.543)

    Teams: Cleveland Indians

    Highlights: 1920 World Series champion

    I've already alluded to this, but here's my problem with guys like Tris Speaker, who were only managers in the role of the player/manager:

    Having good players is one of the best ways to become a great manager. When you have a great player who is also the team's manager, then guys like Speaker benefit as managers from having guys like Speaker as a player.

    I don't know why, but I have a problem giving a guy credit for having managed a team that was good because he played on it. Maybe that's wrong.

    Nevertheless, Speaker led the Indians to the World Series in an era dominated by the Red Sox and White Sox before 1920 and the Yankees after 1920. Speaker's team was the only one to crack the scheme, if only for a year.

75. Cap Anson (1875-1898)

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