Aftermath: How Do MLB Managers Rank Following Last Night's Collapses?
Unless you are a Red Sox or Atlanta Braves fan, I can't see how last night wasn't one of the most amazing nights of baseball you have ever seen. But, with the completion of two of the most historic collapses in MLB history, I've started to ask myself, "Where would I rank guys like Fredi and Terry now?"
So, I've decided to rank my list of MLB managers from worst to best. I will only rank 29 because of the vacancy with the White Sox. I will take into account the following: championships, winning percentage, payroll, overall team talent during their tenure and my gut feelings about each individual.
Before I begin, I'd like to advise that just because a manager is ranked low, that doesn't mean that they are the worst manager ever or don't deserve to be in a dugout. This list is just my personal opinion.
Now, let's begin.
29. Brad Mills
Brad Mills did lead a late-season charge with the Houston Astros in 2010 in which the Astros actually looked like a halfway-decent big league club, but 2011 was a disaster which saw the club trading pieces Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. They lost with those two and without them. Brad Mills may not have much to work with, but he certainly didn't get anywhere near the most out of his players this season. He's my lowest-ranked manager.
Look on the bright side, Astros fans—you will have the No. 1 pick in 2012!
28. Eric Wedge
Unlike Mills, Wedge does own a playoff berth dating back to his Cleveland Indian days. The only problem with that berth is that it fills Indians fans with memories of an epic collapse (ironic given last night) to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.
Now, once again, Wedge has had little to work with for most of his managerial career, but he couldn't keep his teams focused when it counted.
27. Mike Quade
Some might see ranking Mike Quade this low as unfair, but to me he has seemed completely unimpressive in just over a season with the Cubs. He led the Cubs to a 24-13 mark to finish '10 but showed in 2011 that he couldn't keep his club focused and that he couldn't keep the Big-Z under control.
Cubs fans have had to endure other seasons where a talented (or at least moderately talented) team grossly under-performed, and much of the blame must rest on Quade's shoulders.
26. Terry Collins
Terry Collins does have a career winning percentage of just over .500, but all of the winning he has done was with clubs in the mid to late '90s. I have to believe that no one came knocking on Collins' door for over a decade for a reason.
He had the Mets looking like a decent ball club for much of the season, but zero playoff berths and a player campaign that ran him out of Anaheim in the '90s doesn't inspire much confidence in the Mets' chances with him moving forward.
25. Ned Yost
Ned Yost has had two winning seasons, both with the Brewers. In the first, in '07, his team blew a sizable led to the Cubs, and his Brewers missed the playoffs. In '08, he led the Brewers to a 83-67 mark before he was fired following a rough patch down the stretch. The '08 Brewers did go on to win the Wild Card though, so he does deserve some credit.
The problem with Yost, for me, is that he seems like a real hothead, and that would be all nice and well if he were a proven winner, but he's not.
24. Clint Hurdle
The only reason Hurdle isn't a few spots lower is the run he made with the Rockies to win the Wild Card in '07, which propelled his club to the World Series.
This year, he led a youthful ball club in Pittsburgh to a great first half and even a brief stay in 1st place, but he couldn't keep them focused and winning. Hurdle only has one playoff berth, and that hardly outweighs eight losing seasons.
23. Bob Melvin
If you'd asked me a few days ago who Oakland's manager was, I wouldn't have been able to tell you. To me, that looms huge. I'm an avid baseball fan, and a NL fan, so maybe that has something to do with it.
Given Melvin's .491 career mark and single playoff appearance, the team's chances of making the playoffs rest with the team being grossly better on offense in the coming years, and that isn't very likely.
22. Bud Black
In five years, Bud Black has had two winning seasons. Both seasons were marked by awful collapses. The first was in '07 when they allowed the Rockies (who were presumed dead) to tie them down the stretch, losing to them in a one-game playoff. The second was last season when his pitching staff collapsed and, combined with the team's terrible offense, gave the Giants a chance to win the NL West.
Bud Black has never had much of an offense to work with, but two late-season collapses and three losing seasons doesn't breed much confidence in '12 and beyond.
21. Manny Acta
I hate to rank Manny this low, but I feel as though I have to. He has never had a winning season, but truthfully he has never had much to work with before '11. He has always seemed like he lacked a fire to me. I get the feeling that his Indians couldn't hold on because he has never had the fire and intensity to inspire his troops when they are feeling low and/or started to skid.
The Indians looked like they could win the AL Central, but they completely fell off, and Acta has to take a sizable chunk of the responsibility.
20. John Farrell
John Farrell's low ranking should not be taken as an insult. He's only been in the league for one season and led his club to a .500 record in the AL East. The thing is, though, the Jays have finished at or above .500 several times in the last five years, so that isn't a great feat.
19. Don Mattingly
With all the negative buzz that surrounded the Dodgers this year, they actually managed to finish with 82 wins. Mattingly did have the luxury of amazing seasons from players like Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, but he did a solid job either way. The question is—can he and the Dodgers keep it up?
18. Jim Tracy
Jim Tracy's teams seem to either have great seasons or awful seasons. Out of ten seasons with the Dodgers, Pirates and Rockies, Tracy has led four clubs to a .530 winning percentage or better and four clubs to .451 or lower winning percentages. He boasts two playoff berths and two playoff wins. Tracy isn't a bad manager or a great one either, it would seem.
17. Davey Johnson
Truth be told, this is where the rankings really get tough. Davey Johnson has a great, great, great track record. Davey has won everywhere he has coached a full season or more. He is a World Series champion and holds a .561 winning percentage over 15 years as a skipper, but from watching the Nationals play, I believe his time away from the game has caused him to lose a step.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm just going with my gut. If this were over a decade ago, he'd easily be in the top five.
16. Buck Showalter
Buck Showalter is beloved in Baltimore and for good reason. He has helped build teams everywhere he's been. He helped restore the Yankees to glory and rarely if ever gets credit for the playoff dominance the team had following his dismissal.
He took an expansion Diamondback team and led them to 100 victories in just their second season. The team would go on to win the World Series just a few years following his departure.
His Rangers teams also struggled and now are AL West champions following an AL pennant in '10.
Showalter is seen as someone who can build teams and manage them just short of ultimate success. He even got the most out of the Orioles in late August-Sept of '10. He can't get a higher rank until he can win the big one with a team that he helped build, though.
15. Fredi Gonzalez
Fredi has won in three of five seasons with the Marlins and Braves. He was able to led Marlins to winning records twice, and given the fact that the two managers to follow him haven't even lasted a full year with the club or boasted a winning record, that says something.
I'm going largely on the fact that he has gotten the most out of his Marlin teams and that he lost a lot of good pitching down the stretch this year with the Braves, but for his sake, he can't let 2011 happen again.
14. Joe Girardi
Girardi takes a lot of crap from the New York media and still wins. I hate to say it, but he has a ring and has only missed the playoffs once in four years. He does have the league's highest payroll, but you can't completely disregard his results.
13. Ozzie Guillen
Ozzie Guillen might be hard to understand and a hothead, but he has bred results. He won in five of eight years as White Sox skipper and brought home the team's first World Series in nearly a century. It would seem like if anyone could get the most out of the Marlins, it would be Ozzie, and even if not, at least we'll be sure to continue to get some interesting sound bites along the way.
12. Ron Roenicke
Roenicke might be a bit high for most, but how can you argue what he has done in his first season? He led a Brewers team that had been underachieving for several years to 96 wins, which has to count for something. Time will tell if this ranking is too high or too low.
11. Bruce Bochy
Bruce Bochy is an interesting case. His Giants teams have never been much for offense, and his Padres teams were rarely much to write home about as a whole. Yet Bochy has taken teams to the playoffs five times and led the Giants to a World Series win last year. So, I'll have to go with three-straight winning seasons and the title on this one.
10. Dusty Baker
Dusty Baker has been a Major League skipper for nearly 20 years. The 20 years part already has to tell you that he must be doing something right, and he has only managed three teams in that span.
Dusty has never won the big one, but he did lead the '02 Giants to the NL pennant and has five playoff appearances and a .521 career winning percentage.
9. Kirk Gibson
Kirk Gibson may only have one full season under his belt, but who honestly picked the Diamondbacks to win the NL West? I know I didn't. I figured the Diamondbacks would be lucky to finish second and edge out the Rockies, and oh how very wrong I was.
Kirk Gibson obviously has a great deal of "fight" in him as one play highlights his playing career, and that attitude has seemed to rub off on his players. Time will tell if he can make the D-Backs a consistent winner in the West, but for now, he ranks high for me.
8. Ron Gardenhire
Disregard 2011 when evaluating Ron Gardenhire. He lost the heart and soul of his offense for the bulk of the season in Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer and had to work with baseball's worst bullpen.
Gardenhire has only had two losing seasons, including this year, in 10 years with Minnesota. That is crazy good considering how small of a market the Twins are in. The team has had little playoff success, but they have reached the postseason six times in the last ten seasons.
7. Mike Scioscia
Scioscia has led the Halos to the playoffs in six of 12 seasons and a World Series title back in '02. He holds a nearly .550 career winning percentage. He has just three losing seasons as Angels manager.
6. Terry Francona
Five out of eight Red Sox teams under Francona have made the playoffs, and twice he's led the Sox to a World Series title. Those results cannot be refuted, but after an all-time collapse, I can't put him in my top five.
He's still one of the best managers in the game, but you can't be working with that kind of payroll and miss the postseason in such a fashion.
5. Ron Washington
It is crazy to think that many believed Washington would be fired following his admitted drug use, but less than two years later, Ron is leading his team to their second-straight postseason berth.
The amazing thing about Washington's Ranger teams is that they have gotten better and better and better each season. He has three straight winning seasons and led his team to the AL pennant last season. Washington is poised to be Texas's manager for a long while.
4. Charlie Manuel
Manuel's Phillies have reached the postseason in each of the last five seasons, and their winning percentage has improved each year. He led the team to a World Series title in '08 and led the club to the best record in baseball this season.
3. Tony La Russa
Tony La Russa is the longest-tenured manager in any of the four major sports. He is only one of two managers (the other is Sparky Anderson) to win a World Series title in both leagues as manager.
He has fourteen playoff appearances and has kept his club focused enough to battle back and take over the Braves to win this year's NL Wild Card berth. La Russa has been a great manager for a long time and continues to prove that he has still got "it."
2. Jim Leyland
Jim Leyland doesn't have the most glamorous resume of some of the managers ranked below him on this list, but Leyland has a knack for taking cellar dwellers to the top. Leyland led '90-'92 Pirates teams to three straight NLCS appearances despite the club winning just 74 games in '89.
The biggest marks on Leyland's resume are his '97 World Series win with the Marlins and a massive turnaround with his first season with the Tigers in which the team won 95 games and went on to the World Series.
1. Joe Maddon
In my opinion, Joe Maddon has done more with less than any other manager in the Free Agency Era. Maddon has led the Rays to three playoff berths in the last four seasons that is highlighted by a '08 AL pennant and an all-time comeback story to take down the Wild Card-leading Red Sox.
Maddon had to deal with a makeshift bullpen and the loss of his leadoff hitter Carl Crawford to free agency, and yet Maddon's teams continue to win with young starting pitching and timely hitting. Maybe I'm making a bit too much of last night in my analysis, but for now, Maddon is my No. 1 manager at the current moment.