Ranking Major League Baseball’s Managers

By Eric Williams
Updated: September 23, 2008

MLB PHILADELPHIA — Every serious Major League Baseball follower knows that for any team to win a World Series championship title, they need solid leadership starting at the very top — with the manager.

While solid pitching and timely hitting are obviously needed as well, having the right manager, making the right moves at the right time, is just as invaluable to a team’s chances of winning it all if not more so, than those of many of his players.

This MLB article will rank every Major League Baseball manager plying their respective trade for MLB teams across the country in 2008.

NOTE: Manager’s all-time records are entering Tuesday’s games. Milwaukee’s Dale Sveum (2-4) was left off the list

29. Jim Riggleman – Seattle Mariners (518-650)

Named the 14th manager of the Mariners on June 19 after replacing John McLaren, Riggleman has presided over one of the worst managerial jobs ever as the Seattle Mariners underachieved from start to finish this season despite being selected as one of the favorites to reach the postseason in the AL this season. Expect 2008 to be his only season as the leader of the Mariners.

28. Ron Washington – Texas Rangers (150-169)

Washington is in his second — and likely his last — season at the helm of the Texas Rangers, though Washington is clearly not at fault for the Rangers’ lack of ability to get some MLB-quality pitching.

27. Bob Geren – Oakland Athletics (151-167)

The A’s promoted Bob Geren from bench coach to manager on Nov. 17, 2006, but Geren has failed miserably in two seasons, although I place most of the blame of the blame on Oakland management for getting rid of their best pitchers every season. It’s kinda’ hard to win when a gunfight when all you’re bringing to the battle is a bunch of dull butter knives.

26. Bud Black – San Diego Padres (150-169)

Black inherited a Padres team that needed to be rebuilt in the worst way and is clearly going through the rough times of turning around a struggling franchise.

25. Trey Hillman – Kansas City Royals (71-86)

I think Hillman may be the right guy to lead the Royals out of their mediocrity, but the fact of the matter is that the Royals have been in the depths of despair for so long now, that it’s going to take some time to turn things around in Kansas City.

24. Dave Trembley – Baltimore Orioles (107-141)

Trembley compiled a minor league managerial record of 1,369-1,413, won two league titles, and earned Manager of the Year awards in three leagues. He will be given at least a couple of seasons to turn things around in Baltimore.

23. John Russell – Pittsburgh Pirates (65-91)

Hired on Nov. 5, 2007, Russell is Pittsburgh’s fifth full-time manager since the Pirates last had a winning season in 1992. I think Russell has done a credible job this season in getting a marginally talented Pirates team to overachieve for the better part of the season before reality set in.

22. Manny Acta – Washington Nationals (131-187)

Acta was hired as the second manager in Nationals history on Nov. 14, 2006, replacing Hall of Famer Frank Robinson. Acta also managed the Dominican Republic team in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March 2006. I like Acta a lot, but it’s going to take him some time to turn things around in Washington.

21. Bob Melvin – Arizona Diamondbacks (478-488)

The Arizona Diamondbacks manager since Nov. 5, 2004, Melvin hasn’t won anything of consequence yet and has failed to get several of his talented teams to overachieve when something important was on the line. Melvin led the D-Backs to the NL West title in 2007, but the team fell apart in the postseason losing in the NLCS.

20. Cecil Cooper – Houston Astros (97-89)

On Aug. 27, 2007, Cooper was named the interim manager of the Astros following the firing of former manager Phil Garner. After guiding the Astros to a respectable 15-16 record last season, Cooper’s interim tag was dropped in September and he was introduced as the first African American field manager in Astros’ history. While it’s early in his managerial career, Cooper clearly hs a wealth of baseball knowledge that his players can draw on.

19. Fredi Gonzalez – Florida Marlins (152-166)

Gonzalez became the ninth manager in Marlins franchise history on Oct. 3, 2006, replacing Girardi after spending the previous five years as a third base coach (2003-06) and Triple-A manager (2002) in the Atlanta Braves organization.

18. Joe Girardi – New York Yankees (163-155)

Joe Girardi was named manager of the Yankees on Oct. 30, 2007 after agreeing to a three-year deal to replace beloved former manager Joe Torre. Girardi also won the 2006 NL Manager of the Year with the Florida Marlins — before getting fired at the conclusion of that season. Girardi will also become the first Yankees manager since 1994 to fail to led New York into the postseason.

17. Eric Wedge – Cleveland Indians (470-461)

Wedge was named the Cleveland Indians’ 39th manager on October 29, 2002 and immediately helped the ballclub to improve. Wedge led the Indians to 96 wins and an appearance in the ALCS in 2007, but has seen his team flounder immensely in 2008 despite entering the season as one of the top contenders to win the AL Pennant.

16. Clint Hurdle – Colorado Rockies (513-594)

Hurdle, who spent six seasons as a manager in the New York Mets’ minor league system (1988-93) before joining the Colorado Rockies’ organization in 1994, has been the manager of the Rockies since 2002 but has never, led them to a division title. Hurdle did orchestrate one of the biggest comebacks in major league history in 2007 leading the Rockies to an improbable wildcard berth – and NL Pennant. Unfortunately, the Rockies fell apart in getting swept by the Boston Red Sox.

15. Joe Maddon – Tampa Bay Rays (247-283)

Maddon became the fourth manager in Tampa Bay Rays history on Nov. 15, 2005 after spending all 31 years of his professional baseball career in the Los Angeles Angels organization. After two losing seasons in Tampa, Maddon is nearing the completion of one of the great managerial jobs of the last half-century if you ask me, leading a Rays franchise that has never experienced success, to its greatest on-field accomplishments ever – and one of the most unexpected turnarounds in MLB history. At the time of this writing, the Rays were in first place in the NL East.

14. Charlie Manuel – Philadelphia Phillies (571-482)

The fiery Manuel can get anyone to run through a brick wall for him – twice! As manager of the Cleveland Indians from 2000-02, Manuel led the Tribe to a impressive 224-190 record and two 90-win seasons as well as the 2001 American League Central Division title. Now in his fourth season with the Philadelphia Phillies, Manuel has led Philadelphia to two second place finishes in the NL East and one division title in 2007 after pulling off one of the greatest late-season comebacks in MLB history.

13. Jerry Manuel – New York Mets (552-506)

Manuel was the manager of the Chicago White Sox from 1998 to 2003, compiling a 500-471 record and winning AL Manager of the Year honors in 2000, when he led the White Sox to their first division title since 1993. Manuel is in his second stint as a big league manager after taking over for Willie Randolph in mid-June and has immediately had a positive effect on the New York Mets.

12. Dusty Baker – Cincinnati Reds (1,235-1,124)

Baker is a lot like Bochy is you ask me. He knows the game like the back of his hand, but is just mediocre at best as a manager despite his long and impressive career record. Baker, a three-time National League Manager of the Year,(1993, 1997, 2000) has guided nine of his teams to first or second place finishes in their respective divisions while winning 90 games in a single season five time and guiding the San Francisco Giants to the 2002 NL Pennant before falling to the Angels in the World Series in seven games.

11. Bruce Bochy – San Francisco Giants (1,092-1,152)

Bochy, the two-time NL Manager of the Year, was the San Diego Padres’ skipper from 1995-2006, posting a respectable 951-975 (.494) record. While Bochy is likable on all accounts and did lead the Padres to the NL Pennant in 1998, he has failed to get any of his teams to overachieve in the postseason and looks like he may never complete his goal of winning a World Series title at this point.

10. Ron Gardenhire – Minnesota Twins (618-509)

Gardenhire reminds me a lot of the man he replaced in Minnesota in 2002, former beloved manager, Tom Kelly. After taking over for Kelly, who led the Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991, Gardenhire became the first manager in Twins’ history to lead the team to three straight division championships. While Gardenhire has yet to take the small market Twins to a World Series title, he helped them to become perennial contenders despite the fact that they have nowhere in the same ballpark financially as several other big market contenders.

9. Lou Piniella – Chicago Cubs (1,699-1,557)

A two-time AL Manager of the Year winner (1995, 2001), and manager of the 1990 World Series champion Cincinnati Reds, Piniella clearly knows how to manage the game. However, I also believe Piniella has failed to capitalize on the fact that he had several talented teams that underachieved once they reached the postseason, particularly when he was managing the Seattle Mariners from 1993-2002.

8. Ozzie Guillen – Chicago White Sox (430-373)

Say what you like about the fiery Guillen, (and a lot of people do) but the man knows how to motivate his players. In his very first season with the franchise, Guillen led the Chicago White Sox to their first World Series title since 1917. While the White Sox have yet to duplicate their stunning success of 2004, Guillen, despie his often senseless outbursts, has helped to turn the franchise into a perennial Pennant contender.

7. Bobby Cox – Atlanta Braves (2,324-1,852)

Cox has led the Atlanta to 15 career division titles, including 14 straight, five pennants and one World Series (1995) and is a four-time Manager of the Year recipient, but I have to admit that Cox has failed to lead his team to at least two or three more World Series titles when the Braves were clearly the best team in the NL during several of those years when the Braves won those 14 straight NL East division titles. Despite his gaudy career numbers, I’m going to remember Cox as the man who failed to get his team to reach their full potential time and time again.

6. Jim Leyland – Detroit Tigers (1,323-1,356)

Leyland led the Florida Marlins to the World Series title in 1997 and took the Detroit Tigers to the World Series in 2006. Leyland is one of only seven managers in big league history to win the Pennant in both leagues and is also a three-time Manager of the Year award winner, (1990, 1992, 2006). I know Leyland, now in his 17th season as a big league manager, may not have as many World Series Championship rings as some of the other managers on this list, but when it comes to his vast knowledge of the game – and his ability to get his players to run through a brick wall for him, Leyland takes a back seats to no one.

5. Mike Scioscia – Los Angeles Angels (800-652)

As a player, Scioscia was a member of the Los Dodgers’ World Series teams in 1981 and 1988, and made his mark on the managerial fraternity in a big way since he took over as manager of the Angels in 1999. Scioscia was named 2002 American League Manager of the Year after leading the Angels to their first World Series title in franchise history that season. Scioscia has built the Angels into perennial winners, leading the team to division titles in 2005, 2007 and this season as well.

4. Cito Gaston – Toronto Blue Jays (726-667)

The beloved Gaston led the Toronto Blue Jays to World Series titles in consecutive years, (1992-93) and returned this season to replace fired Jays manager John Gibbons. Result? An instant turn-around that catapulted the floundering Blue Jays into postseason contention! Many people may not know it, but the soft-spoken Gaston learned a lot as the young roomate of one, Henry ‘Hank Aaron’ who taught him, in his own words, “how to be a man and how to stand on my own.” Clearly, Gaston learned those lessons well fron ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ and has been teaching them to youn players for decades now, which makes him — in my book, one of the best managers in the game today — and ever.

3. Tony La Russa – St. Louis Cardinals (2,455-2146)

La Russa led the Cardinals to the World Series championship in 2006, the team’s first title since 1982 and is the also the only manager in Major League Baseball history besides Sparky Anderson to win a World Series title in both leagues. In 2003, LaRussa became just the seventh manager in big league history to win 2,000 career games and he also owns 500 wins with three different teams, the Oakland A’s, Chicago White Sox and Cardinals. Whether you like him or not, (and a lot of people don’t) the fiery La Russa knows how to manage the game of baseball.

2. Terry Francona – Boston Red Sox (751-701)

Francona has emphatically snapped the infamous ‘Cure of Ruth’ by leading the Red Sox to two World Series titles in the last four seasons. Whether you love the Sox or not, Francona has accomplished a feat – twice – that no other Red Sox manager could accomplish in nearly a century. His laid-back managerial style is very reminiscent of Torre’s – and just as effective.

1. Joe Torre– Los Angeles Dodgers (2,148-1,845)

Torre may be the only man on the face of the earth that could have dealt with the New York media and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner as well as he did for 12 seasons. Despite the fact that the Yankees’ idiotically thought Torre needed some sort of incentive-based contract to motivate him, Torre is undoubtedly the best manager in all of Major League Baseball and has verified that fact in his first season with the young Los Angeles Dodgers.