Philadelphia Phillies: Grading Charlie Manuel and Each of the Last 25 Managers
A baseball manager is unlike any other sport's coach, and not just because he actually wears the same uniform as his players.
A manager is like a brain. In fact, the assembly of a baseball club in general is something straight out of Frankenstein. The general manager brings the pieces of the body together. If he's good, they'll fit together and work in unison. Of course, those body parts are none other than the players themselves. Good ones work for a long time. Bad ones need to be replaced.
But none of those pieces work at all without the brain—the manager. Dr. Frankenstein can stitch body parts together until he's blue in the face, but they won't move without the brain. The better the brain, the better his players. That's why even the most talented teams need someone calling the shots. Be it a rag-tag group of rookies or a squad of wily veterans, the manager is an integral part of the club.
The Philadelphia Phillies have had some good ones, but they've had their fair share of bad ones as well.
The history of managers in Philadelphia show an interesting trend. Losers for a long time, that attitude is reflected in the legacy of certain leaders. Sure, some teams aren't exactly, well, talented (and I won't hold that against them), but when the culture changes, it seems like a new leader appears.
With the recent success of the Phillies organization, a large portion of the fanbase knows just one, maybe two, managers. However, it's important to know the roots and deep history of this organization's leadership. It's time to weed out the good from the bad, separate the best from the above average.
But just how do you value a manager?
For myself, personally, there is no given measurement. The obvious watermark is team success. As the Boston Red Sox showed us in 2011, even talented teams fall apart at the seams with weak leadership, and a team's success, no matter the level of talent, reflects its manager's leadership. On the flip side, it is also understandable that when bad teams have good results, that manager is certainly doing something right as well. That was accounted for.
When compiling this list and ordering it just so, I took into account a number of different factors and worked them into a points system of sorts, and while I won't list them all, some of the major considerations were win totals, average win totals by season, win/loss percentage and—most importantly to the fans—titles and accomplishments.
To simplify the results, five letter grades were made available—A through F. It would be silly to evaluate interim managers and men in similar situations, so please note that managers had to serve at least one full season as manager to be considered for this list.
So, without any further ado, let's take a look at the last 25, full-time managers of the Philadelphia Phillies and slap a letter grade next to each one's name.
25. Doc Prothro
Doc Prothro managed just three seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies organization from 1939 through 41, and the results tend to show that he wasn't all too great of a manager. After all, in those three seasons he posted an abysmal record of 138-320 (.301 W-L%) and didn't win a single title, but it's hard to hold him completely responsible for that.
After all, in each of his three seasons, not a single member of his teams managed to generate much productivity. In each of his three seasons, his top player failed to generate more than four WAR, as Mike Arnovich (3.2 WAR), Kirby Higbe (3.5 WAR), and Danny Litwhiler (3.2 WAR) had those honors, respectively.
Photo Credit: The Baseball Biography Project.
24. Stuffy McInnis
Stuffy McInnis is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but his managerial career played no part in that honor. He spent just one year as a manager, of the Philadelphia Phillies, and to say that it was a bad season would be describing the situation nicely.
As was a common theme during this time period for the Phillies, McInnis led the 1927 squad to a record of 51-103. His best player, Dutch Ulrich, posted a WAR of just 3.5 that season, but someone has to take the fall for the team's failure.
That would be the manager, of course.
Photo Credit: www.baseball-reference.com
23. Freddie Fitzsimmons
Freddie Fitzsimmons was a great pitcher during his playing days, but that success didn't translate over to the managerial side of the ball. He took over as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies midway through the 1943 season and managed until midway through 1945, when he was relieved of his duties.
Over that span of time, "Fat Freddie" compiled an embarrassing record of 104-180, and his average finish in the standings was 7.7. Ouch. He wasn't working with great teams, and the best player on the 1945 club that helped him lose his job, Andy Karl, posted a WAR of just 2.5, but there was more talent there than Fitzsimmons showed.
Photo Credit: Centerfield Maz
22. Kaiser Wilhelm
When Kaiser Wilhelm was a Major League pitcher, he lost nearly twice as many games as he won. As a Major League manager, he wasn't much better. Wilhelm took over for the Phillies in 1921 as a player / manager before moving to the bench full-time in 1922. He probably should have stayed on the mound. He compiled a record of 83-137 as the team's manager and was fired after his first full season.
There wasn't much talent on either of his teams, but he did have an outfielder under his watch by the name of Cliff Lee.
Photo Credit: www.wikipedia.org
21. Jimmie Wilson
Jimmie Wilson was the first guy on this list to have any sort of success with the Philadelphia Phillies, but that of course depends on your interpretation of "success." With Dolph Camilli and Curt Davis under his command, Wilson managed about four and a half seasons with the Phillies, winning 280 games. He also lost 477 of them.
Wilson spent all of those seasons as a player as well, and he was actually better on the field than with the scorecard. All in all, his managerial experience in Philadelphia was not a complete failure, but it was pretty bad.
Photo Credit: Sully Baseball
20. Art Fletcher
When Art Fletcher's days as a shortstop were over, he quickly took over as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, managing talent like Hal Carlson, Cy Williams, and Jimmy Ring over his four year stint. He wasn't very successful, but at the very least, had a better go of it than Jimmie Wilson.
In four seasons as the Phils' skipper, Fletcher posted a record of 231-378, never finishing higher than sixth place in the standings.
19. Gavvy Cravath
Gavvy Cravath had an excellent playing career as a right fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies. He took over as the team's manager (while still playing) in 1919, and apparently, the team thought enough of him to allow him to retain that status through the 1920 season, where he returned as both a player and manager.
By the end of that one and a half year tenure as manager, however, they had seen enough. He compiled a record of 91-137, and the most interesting fact about his stint, at least according to Baseball-Reference, is that in 1919, when he took over as the Phillies' manager, he was also their most valuable player.
18. Ben Chapman
Next out of our revolving door of great players who made not-so-great managers, a man who's managerial career was marred by controversy. Ben Chapman, an excellent third baseman and outfielder, was opposed to the breaking of MLB's color barrier. Therefore, when Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers came to town, he instructed his players to hit Robinson on certain counts and taunt him verbally throughout the game.
Maybe it was karma, but Chapman's managerial career wasn't exactly awe-inspiring. He posted a record of 197-276, despite receiving contributions from players like Del Ennis, Dutch Leonard, and Harry Walker.
17. Frank Lucchesi
Frank Lucchesi took over as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1970, and while his teams had some talented players on their rosters, they weren't exactly talented teams. After two unimpressive seasons, he was fired midway through the 1973 campaign, posting a record of 166-233 with the Phils.
Surprisingly enough, the best player on his 1971 team—Rick Wise—was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the 1972 season for a young lefty name Steve Carlton, who would become the best player on the Phillies in 1972.
Photo Credit: Out of the Park Baseball
16. Nick Leyva
When Nick Leyva took over as the Philadelphia Phillies' manager in 1989, it was unbeknown to him that in just a few years, the organization was going to go on an exciting run with a fun group of players, but why should he have cared? He wasn't going to be around for it.
He managed just two unproductive seasons for the Phillies, and just 13 games into the 1991 season, was relieved of his duties as the club's manager. He posted a record of 148-149, despite talented guys like John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra, and Von Hayes working under his command.
15. John Felske
John Felske is not an easy man to find a picture of.
Then again, why should that be surprising? He wasn't exactly a popular guy when he was employed by the Philadelphia Phillies as their manager. After managing two seasons for the Phils beginning in 1985, the club was unimpressed by his inability to lead a talented club to better results, and thus, he was fired midway through the 1987 season, giving way to Lee Elia, who proved to be no better. Elia would never be given a shot at the manager's job for a full season.
14. Burt Shotton
You'll have to go way back to 1928 to find Burt Shotton's first season as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, but it was his tenure that sends our list out of the managerial cellar and starts its climb towards the top. Despite the fact that his 1930 pitching staff was arguably the worst of all time, Shotton managed to last six seasons as the Phils' manager, posting a record of 370-549.
His record looks laughable, but considering the level of talent he had under his watchful eye, it may be surprising that he was even able to manage that. His best players were Lefty O'Doul and Chuck Klein, but there weren't many recognizable (and productive) names outside of those two.
13. Terry Francona
Terry Francona has been getting a lot of flack in the media recently for the collapse of the 2011 Boston Red Sox, but there is only so much a manager can do when the team has decided that you're no longer the leader; no longer the voice of the team. Francona is still a great manager and will get a job somewhere.
That said—and Francona has been fairly vocal about this—it isn't unfair to say that he wasn't good with the Philadelphia Phillies. In fact, he used his tenure in Philadelphia as a creative way of gaining experience as a Major League manager, and the club suffered, despite contributions from the likes of Curt Schilling, Bobby Abreu, and Scott Rolen.
As the Phils' manager, Francona spent four years in town and posted a record of 285-363. Would he have been able to win two World Series as the manager of the Red Sox without making losers out of the Phillies? Who knows.
Photo Credit: Delaware Online
12. Eddie Sawyer
Eddie Sawyer made the most of a couple of stints as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, highlighted by winning a National League pennant in 1950 before dropping the World Series to the New York Yankees. The team thought enough of his first stint with the club to bring him back for a second in 1958 and in total, Sawyer spent parts of eight seasons as the club's skipper.
He posted an impressive win total of 390, but was also saddled with 423 losses. It isn't hard to envision a manager winning that many games, however, when he is able to pencil in names like Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn, and Jim Konstanty.
Photo Credit: www.baseball-reference.com
11. Mayo Smith
I have no idea how he acquired his name or if it truly is his legal middle name, but there has to be a legitimate reason why he called himself Mayo Smith, right?
Regardless of that, Smith spent parts of four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies as the club's manager starting in 1955 and ending midway through the 1958 campaign. He posted a record of 264-282 with the Phillies and frankly, was the personification of "average."
Not surprisingly, in each of his three full seasons as manager of the Phillies, some guy by the name of Richie Ashburn was his best player.
Photo Credit: www.baseball-reference.com
10. Paul Owens
Paul Owens took over the Philadelphia Phillies as manager for the second half of the 1972 season, but couldn't do much to right the sinking ship. He wasn't back as the team's manager for the following season, but wouldn't be off the field for good. He made his way back on to the bench more than 10 years later, once again taking over in the second half, this time in 1983, and staying aboard for the 1984 campaign.
In three seasons, he posted an average record of 161-158, leading the Phillies to a National League pennant in 1983 on the coattail of slugging third baseman Mike Schmidt, before dropping the World Series to the Baltimore Orioles.
Today, many a fan will recognize him as the namesake for the award given to the two best Phillies' Minor Leagues players, the Paul Owens Award.
Photo Credit: AP / SI Kids
9. Pat Corrales
Doug Benc/Getty Images
Pat Corrales barely had time to look for an apartment in Philadelphia before he was chased out of town. He took over as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1982 and had a relatively successful season, finishing in second place. A year later, he struggled to keep the team above the .500 mark and was booted so that Paul Owens could return to the field.
All in all, his year and a half as the Phils' skipper wasn't all that bad. He posted a record of 132-115 and received significant contributions from, who else, Mike Schmidt.
The Phillies' would certainly not be his last stop as a coach, however, as Corrales is still working in the MLB today.
8. Steve O'Neill
Steve O'Neill is another example of a man who spent a relatively small amount of time as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, and in the long run, was neither successful nor unsuccessful. He just had an average career.
O'Neill took over as the Phillies' skipper midway through the 1952 season, managed through the 1953 season, and was let go midway through the 1954 season. When he all was said and done, he had compiled a record of 182-140 with the Phillies—the last stop of his managerial career—and his best player was one of the Phils' all time greats—Robin Roberts.
Photo Credit: The Times-Tribune
7. Jim Fregosi
There exists a contingency that isn't exactly fond of the work of former Philadelphia Phillies' manager Jim Fregosi, and that's perfectly understandable, however, it's time to give credit where credit is due. After all, not many managers in the history of this organization boast even a trip to the World Series, something Fregosi did in 1993 when the Phils dropped the series to the Toronto Blue Jays.
In total, Fregosi's career as Phillies' manager spanned six seasons, and he posted a record of 431-463. The 1993 National League pennant was significant if for no reason other than it was the first since 1983. However, it is believed that, and rightfully so, teams that were littered with talents like John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra and Darren Daulton were under-managed, and under his watch, the Phillies slipped back into mediocrity in the 1990s.
6. Gene Mauch
To most fans, Gene Mauch is easily one of the greatest managers the Philadelphia Phillies have ever had, and rightfully so. After all, one man has more wins in the history of the franchise than he, and we haven't even talked about him yet. On the other side of the coin, Mauch was behind the helm of one of the greatest collapses of all time, and never led the Phillies to the postseason.
In nine seasons, Mauch posted a record of 646-684, but his average finish in the standings was no higher than five. His average seasons were certainly not due to a lack of talent, as he handled names like Dick Allen, Jim Bunning, and Johnny Callison over the course of his career.
Great manager gets a solid "B" on this list.
Photo Credit: The Seattle Times
5. Larry Bowa
Talk about guys who never get the credit they deserved. When Larry Bowa took over as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2001, he was working with nothing. The team had gone through a long period of mediocrity and was struggling to maintain relevant. As such, the front office hired the firey manager to change the culture of the clubhouse, and boy, did he ever do that.
In his four seasons as the Phillies' manager, Bowa guided some of the team's future stars when he penciled in names like Jimmy Rollins, and balanced those names with veterans like Scott Rolen and Bobby Abreu, despite clashing with their personalities from time to time.
He posted a record of 337-308 as the Phils' skipper, and laid the framework for the future success of the franchise, when a familiar face would take over for him in 2005.
4. Danny Ozark
You can't talk about the cream of the crop of Philadelphia Phillies' managers without bringing up Danny Ozark. After all, he spent just eight seasons as a Major League manager and seven of them were spent with the Phillies, where he posted a great record of 594-510. With that in mind, he led the Phils to three first place finishes, but never to a National League pennant.
As the team's manager during the 1970s, he was responsible for a talented group of guys, highlighted by names like Mike Schmidt, and yes, Wayne Twitchell. To this date he is one of the Phillies' all time leaders in wins by a manager, and boasts two 100-win seasons with the Phillies.
3. Pat Moran
The next couple of guys may come as a bit of a surprise to some, but that's the fun of baseball. If you've never heard of Pat Moran, I won't hold it against you. After all, he was managing the Philadelphia Phillies way back in 1915, and he spent four seasons as the manager of the Phils, leading them to a National League pennant.
With his ace, Pete Alexander, leading the way, Moran compiled a record of 323-257 as the manager of the Phillies, and despite losing the 1915 World Series to the Boston Red Sox, is the owner of one of the best winning percentages all time in the history of the organization.
Photo Credit: www.baseball-reference.org
2. Dallas Green
Long before he was widely considered one of the best scouts in all of baseball, Dallas Green was one of the greatest managers in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies. Even though he spent just three seasons with the club, he did what not manager before him was able to do—bring a World Series to the City of Brotherly Love, downing the Kansas City Royals in 1980.
Over the course of those three seasons, Green relied on the work of some of the greatest Phillies of all time, including Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt, compiling a record of 169-130. After moving to the front office, he helped construct much of the current Phillies' roster, and the argument can be made that no man has done more for the success of the organization than Green.
1. Charlie Manuel
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Say what you want about Charlie Manuel. You can say that he doesn't play enough small-ball and he sure as heck doesn't know anything about pitching. Say whatever you can think of to try and knock him down, but at the end of the day, no manager in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies has had more success than Charlie Manuel.
He joined the Phillies in 2005 and the rest is history. He brought the World Series trophy back to Philadelphia in 2008, bringing the Phils full circle out of mediocrity and positioning the organization to be a perennial contender.
In his seven season with the Phillies, Manuel has won two National League pennants and a World Series, and no manager has more wins than his 646. He is responsible for the growth of great hitters like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins, has relied on the work of aces like Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, but most importantly, has drawn success out of each of the players in his clubhouse.
From a guy that was the unpopular choice when he was hired to the greatest manager in the history of the franchise, no man better identifies with the city of Philadelphia and its Phillies than Charlie Manuel.