Ranking the Current MLB Managers

Updated: January 16, 2012

Old Lou Piniella getting after it back in his days with the Devil Rays. Piniella would get points for his tantrums if still managing.

Managers don’t throw a single pitch. They don’t take a single grounder, get a single hit, or score a single run. Yet having the right manager is the key to winning. Managers, like Joe Madden, get a lot of credit for their team’s success but when teams fail, managers take a bulk of the blame (Terry Francona). I’ve decided to take a look at the 30 MLB managers and rank them based upon success, managing ability and who’d I want as my guy if I were starting a team today.

  1. Joe Maddon, Rays: Maddon has won and won consistently since getting to Tampa in 2006. He’s finished 1st, 3rd, 1st, and 2nd in baseball’s toughest division with a payroll about a quarter of that of his competitors. Credit for this must be given to the Rays’ front office but Maddon has done a great job. 
  2. Ron Washington, Rangers: Some may question Ron’s methods and not always agree with his in game decisions but you just can’t argue with success. Washington’s clubs have won the AL pennant in each of the last two seasons.
  3. Charlie Manuel, Phillies: Manuel took over the Phillies in 2005 after being fired mid-season by the Indians. Since then, the Phillies have finished no worse than 2nd in the NL East and Manuel’s clubs have won at least 90 games in each of the last four seasons, including 102 last year. He’s also got a World Series ring from 2008.
  4. Jim Leyland, Tigers: Leyland is perhaps the most experienced manager on our list, he’s manger for most of the last 35 years. Though he hasn’t won a championship since 1997 with the Marlins, there’s a reason he’s still around, Leyland can win with just about any team and is willing to make the tough decisions to do so.
  5. Mike Scioscia, Angels: As manager of the Angels for the past 11 seasons, Scioscia has won 100 games once and 90 games five times. He’s made it to the post season 6 times and won one world championship. He is also extremely involved in front office moves, or at least he was until this last year when he took a more conventional manger’s role.
  6. Ron Roenicke, Brewers: Ok, I know, he’s only had one year of managerial experience but hear me out on this one. The Brewers went all in before the season started and it payed off in major part because of the manager. The Brew Crew won 96 games last year and made it to the NLCS. Roenicke did a great job with his pitching staff and handled the whole K-Rod situation like a veteran. I think he’s going to become a big name in managing.
  7. Ron Gardenhire, Twins: Last year was a disaster but not of Gardenhire’s doing. His best two players were hurt. Though he has never won a playoff series as a manager, Ron’s clubs have made the postseason in 6 of his 9 seasons in Minnie.
  8. Buck Showalter, Orioles: Ok, this might be a little high for the manager of a last place team but give Buck a chance. Baltimore is only his most recent stop, he’s previously been a manger for a bunch of other successful teams and won 100 games in Arizona in 2009. He gets big points for the “I’d want to start a team with him at the helm” factor.
  9. Bruce Bochy, Giants: The 2010 champs had a disappointing year this season mostly because they couldn’t hit. Bochy gets major credit for keeping all his young starters happy, developing Madison Bumgarner into a really good player, and sitting through all those edge-of-your-seat Brian Wilson saves.
  10. Joe Girardi, Yankees: Girardi was a managerial phenom in Miami before going to New York and winning the Series in his first year. He does a great job handling New York and dealing with all the major personalities on the roster. Plus, the way he weathered that rotation and AJ Burnett to win the division last year was impressive. After the Top 10, the quality of names on this list drops dramatically. There’s a big gap between numbers 10 and 11.
  11. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks: Kirk took a last place team and won the NL West with them. He’s secured himself in his job in the desert, let’s see if he can repeat the magic next season.
  12. Freddie Gonzalez, Braves: Freddie would have been much higher on this list if not for the Braves’s September collapse. He did a poor job of holding his team together, all they had to do was win 1 more game to make it but they couldn’t get it done. Terry Francona lost his job this winter in a similar situation.
  13. Clint Hurdle, Pirates: I was very impressed with the Pirates play for most of this season, though they did drop off a lot towards the end. Maybe Hurlde is the right guy to finally turn this franchise around.
  14. Terry Collins, Mets: Collins is really a stop gap until the Mets turn things around and GM Sandy Alderson can get a manger he really wants for the long haul. That said, Terry did a good job with a crappy team.
  15. Davey Johnson, Nationals: This season will be a big test for the veteran manger. He’s got a really good team, what can he do with it in a really tough division?
  16. John Farrell, Blue Jays: Like Johnson, this season will be big for John Farrell. He left his job as Boston’s pitching coach to manage the Jays and did a fine job last year. Now he’s got a little experience managing, let’s see what he can do.
  17. Bobby Valentine, Boston: A wealth of baseball knowledge with a surprisingly small amount of success in the MLB. He’s got a big job ahead of him.
  18. Don Mattingly, Dodgers: Donnie Baseball was ok in his first season and had to deal with a lot of off field stuff but he should have won more games considering he had the Cy Young award winner and MVP runner-up.
  19. Bud Black, Padres: He had a real good season in 2010 but is a decidedly average manager.
  20. Dusty Baker: Dusty’s had a lot of success in his managerial career but if you need a good, young pitcher run into the ground, he’s still your guy.
  21. Ned Yost, Royals: Another guy facing a big year . The Royals finally have all their pieces, let’s see what Yost can do with them.
  22. Jim Tracy, Rockies: He’s a ok manager. What? I got nothing.
  23. Ozzie Guillen: Marlins: He’s a loudmouth pain in the rear. How long can he continue to live off that one World Series Championship?
  24. Brad Mills, Astros: He can’t really be blamed for the fact that he’s got a AAA team in the pros.
  25. Manny Acta, Indians: Name something about Manny Acta. I can’t either.
  26. Eric Wedge, Mariners: He was ok with Cleveland until he got fired, now he’s ok in Seattle. Moving on.
  27. Bob Melvin, A’s: His GM just traded away any half way decent player. Good Luck.
  28. Dale Sveum: If the Cubs and Red Sox were fighting over him he must be good, right?

Mike Matheny, Cardinals and Robin Ventura, White Sox: Both new managers. You’ve got to show me at least one game before getting ranked, sorry.


-Max Frankel


  1. thannon67

    January 17, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Max – I like many things you write, but this list is fairly unstable. Davy Johnson for one has won pretty much every where he managed and has a championship. How could you rate him below Schowalter? He has yet to capture a title. Ron Roenicke over Kirk Gibson? Niether of them belong in top 10 but how can you pur Roenicke 6 and Gibson 11? Gibson had. Getting to top of list, Ron Washington, he managed away the championship last year, and Jim Leyland is a good manager but he has slipped.

    A top 5 –
    Joe Maddon – Not sure he is #1 but he is the sexy choice and in hard division he has done well.
    Bruce Bochy – 2010 Champions, I cant recall a team that has less offensive talent win a title
    Ron Gardnehire – Twins went from being eliminated from baseball to a world class stadium under his watch and contender every year, without spending big for it.
    Charlie Manual – Good manager but he has had a ton of talent, and second highest payroll in game
    Joe Girardi – people may not like him, but he won a title and has had to band aid together staffs the last two seasons and still made playoffs. He has to be doing something right.


  2. G Calk

    January 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    At the end of the day any manager’s contribution to a teams success is vastly overrated. All they can really influence is the team’s chemistry, as strategic decisions do not have very far reaching implications. This is not to say that they have no impact on a game, but really their decision on who to start at pitcher is the biggest decision they make and that is usually not that difficult of a decision on teams with the quality to actually make the playoffs by the time these decisions actually matter (ie the playoffs). I guess they could help in player development, but I’m not too sure how much influence they actually have in this department either.

    Really, their biggest influence is making sure the players are relaxed enough to perform well, considering that baseball is basically just about individual performance.

  3. Chuck

    January 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    As a Rangers fan you gotta give Wash his props, but he’s one of the worst in game decision makers I’ve seen in my time. IMO, his mishandling of relievers costs them 5-8 games a year. It’s his attitude and the attitude and skills of the exceptional players on this team that drives it’s success. I’m honored to be able to watch this team every game…its a true pleasure to watch players enjoy the game for the merits of the game, and not just for money. I give Marlon Byrd a lot of credit for bringing an upbeat attitude and his smile to a struggling franchise a few years back…he ignited a different spirit.

  4. Tanned Tom

    January 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I think you way overrate Washington and Manuel. Both have elite teams and play in weak divisions. How hard is it to manage well under those circumstances? Showalter, of course, has worn out his welcome in both NY and Texas AFTER HAVING BEEN SUCCESSFUL. This guy is a known control freak who alienated the veterans on both teams by treating them like idiot children. I wouldn’t want this guy anywhere near my team.
    Both Girardi and Johnson should rank higher. Girardi has done well in Miami and NY, and it’s truly no small thing to handle the extra pressure of the Bronx. Johnson WAS a pretty good manager, we’ll see if he’s still got it.
    If anything you were too lenient on Mattingly, Baker, Tracy and Guillen. Mattingly threw a hissy fit because he was passed over for Girardi, who actually had managerial experience and had impressed observers as a possible future manager while still a player. No one ever thought Mattingly to be a future manager while he played, and no one’s first managing job will be for the Yankees. Makes him an insufferable egotist.
    Baker really has no clue about handling pitchers, and this is the area where managers have the greatest impact (and is why Joe Torre was lucky to have managed the Yanks while they were so talented).
    Tracy is quite possibly the stupidest manager currently working. He will give part time players on a hitting streak a day off to “rest them and to keep the other players sharp”, whereas any little leaguer knows you always respect a hitting streak.
    Guillen is one of two currently alive managers or ex-managers who would make good choices as manager for the all-time jerk team (Piniella is the other). It is impossible to over state what a complete jerk this guy is. Though as Yankees fan I’m happy he ran Swisher out of town, thanks Ozzie, you cretin.

  5. Dante Mcmarlin

    January 22, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Posted your page, Ranking the Current MLB Managers | Off The Bench on digg. Thought you would want to know, Dante Mcmarlin

  6. H Remler

    January 30, 2012 at 10:04 am

    It’s interesting to question how much impact a manager really has on a game. what about a column on what sport does the coach have the most impact…just a thought.

    i want to push for terry collins to be pushed higher in rankings, he literally took the most dysfunctional team in the most critical media and made it seem like these guys actually cared.

  7. Pingback: Tampa Bay Rays Season Preview | Off The Bench

  8. Pingback: Cincinnati Reds Season Preview | Off The Bench

  9. Ryan

    May 3, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Jim Tracy is ranked about 8 spots too high. The Rockies have quit on him in each of the last two seasons, and when they do win it is usually in spite of dumb managerial moves.

  10. Pingback: Tampa Bay Rays Season Preview: Pitching Wins Championships? | Off The Bench

  11. Rosemarie

    April 12, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I like this blog so a lot, saved to my bookmarks .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>