The Baseballist: Top 10 Most Accomplished Active Managers

In his 1995 book “Whatever Happened To The Hall Of Fame?,” Bill James proposed a method for evaluating managers’ worthiness for enshrinement in Cooperstown. He assigned weighted values to various accomplishments.

• Seasons with at least 100 games managed (two points each)
• World Series championships (eight)
• Pennants not resulting in a championship (five)
• Division titles (two)
• Playoff appearances (one)
• Career wins (one point per 200)
• 100-win seasons (one)

James actually awarded three points per division title, but his system predates the wild-card era, so I altered the formula slightly to account for the change in playoff format. Just as James laid out 20 years ago, a team winning a division still earns three points—two points for a division title plus one point for a playoff appearance—but advancing via the wild card earns a team only one point.

A manager who earns 100 points under this system is considered to be a strong Hall of Fame candidate. For example, each member of the distinguished Cooperstown managerial class of 2014 sailed past that threshold. Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre rank third, fourth and fifth on the all-time managerial wins list, and their level of career achievement is staggering.

Hall Of Fame Class Of 2014
Manager Wins (Rank)
WS Rings Pennants Points
Tony La Russa 2,728 (3) 3 3 158
Bobby Cox 2,504 (4) 1 4 148
Joe Torre 2,326 (5) 4 2 152

Two other recently retired managers rank inside the top 15 for career wins, and each has a World Series championship on his résumé, yet neither Lou Piniella (81 points) nor Jim Leyland (90 points) hit the century mark in James’ HOF monitor system. They might one day be enshrined in Cooperstown, of course, but the system does not view them as obvious candidates for enshrinement.

With so many accomplished managers vacating the dugout in recent seasons—including three of the best ever—and with teams seemingly favoring younger, less experienced applicants when making manager hires, the game today appears to have fewer active managers on a Hall of Fame track. But let’s take a closer look using the James monitor system outlined above.

If you pay attention to the annual BA Best Tools balloting results, then you probably know the identity of the No. 1 active manager, because he has claimed the last five consecutive Best Manager wins in the National League.

1. Bruce Bochy • Giants
Seasons: 21 || WS Titles: 3 || Pennants: 1 || Divisions: 6 || Playoffs: 7
Wins: 1,702 (16th) || 100 W: 0 || Points: 98

Manager of the Year: 1996 Padres
Average Wins, 2013-15: 83

With 68 wins this season, Bochy will pass Jim Leyland to take over 15th place on the all-time win list. When he manages his 100th game this season, Bochy will collect the final two points he needs to reach 100 on the Hall of Fame monitor. Not that he needs the boost. He clearly walks a path to Cooperstown.

Bochy guided San Francisco to World Series victories in 2010, 2012 and 2014, yet he actually won more division titles in his 12 years with the Padres (four) than he has in nine seasons with the Giants (two). He notched his highest win total in San Diego, too, with 98 victories and an NL pennant in 1998. Shockingly, Bochy has won only one NL Manager of the Year award, despite four World Series appearances.

2. Dusty Baker • Nationals
Seasons: 20 || WS Titles: 0 || Pennants: 1 || Divisions: 5 || Playoffs: 7
Wins: 1,671 (17th) || 100 W: 1 || Points: 71

Manager of the Year: 1993 Giants, 1997 Giants, 2000 Giants
Average Wins, 2011-13: 89

Baker replaces Matt Williams, one of his former players from the Giants teams of the early ’90s, in the Washington dugout. After two years out of uniform, Baker brings a distinguished track record to the Nationals that includes division titles with the Giants (1997, 2000), Cubs (2003) and Reds (2010, 2012), plus an NL pennant with the 2002 Giants. He’s also 167 games over .500 for his career, a total bettered only by Mike Scioscia and Joe Girardi among active managers.

3. Mike Scioscia • Angels
Seasons: 16 || WS Titles: 1 || Pennants: 0 || Divisions: 6 || Playoffs: 7
Wins: 1,416 (24th) || 100 W: 1 || Points: 67

Manager of the Year: 2002 Angels, 2009 Angels
Average Wins, 2013-15: 87

The only manager here to spend his entire career with one team, Scioscia captured his lone World Series title (thus far) with the 2002 Angels, a wild card entrant. Anaheim missed the playoffs in 2003, but then proceeded to claim five American League West division titles in six years from 2004 through 2009. Scioscia’s Angels advanced to the AL Championship Series in 2005 and 2009, and his 2008 team won 100 games. He is 240 games over .500 for his career, which is a higher total than any active manager.

4. Terry Francona • Indians
Seasons: 15 || WS Titles: 2 || Pennants: 0 || Divisions: 1 || Playoffs: 6
Wins: 1,287 (34th) || 100 W: 0 || Points: 60

Manager of the Year: 2013 Indians
Average Wins, 2013-15: 86

Francona won two World Series rings with the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox, and his 28 career postseason wins rank him second only to Bruce Bochy (42) among active managers. His Red Sox advanced to the playoffs in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009—and his 2013 Indians won one of the AL wild cards—yet only the 2007 team actually won its division.

5. Buck Showalter • Orioles
Seasons: 16 || WS Titles: 0 || Pennants: 0 || Divisions: 3 || Playoffs: 4
Wins: 1,340 (31st) || 100 W: 1 || Points: 49

Manager of the Year: 1994 Yankees, 2004 Rangers, 2014 Orioles
Average Wins, 2013-15: 87

Showalter will move into the top 30 all-time for manager wins early this season, and he’ll finish in 24th place if his Orioles can win just 74 games this season. He has won 98 more games than he has lost in his career. Showalter has three times as many Manager of the Year awards (three) as Bruce Bochy (one), and he won them with three different teams.

Yet Showalter is one of just two managers in this top 10 ranking to never appear in a World Series, which is why the HOF monitor system bunches him with less-tenured managers like Ned Yost and Joe Girardi.

6. Ned Yost • Royals
Seasons: 12 || WS Titles: 1 || Pennants: 1 || Divisions: 1 || Playoffs: 2
Wins: 925 (66th) || 100 W: 0 || Points: 45

Average Wins, 2013-15: 90

Yost’s résumé reads like a mirror opposite of Buck Showaler’s. He’s 46 games under .500 for his career, which includes losing records with the Brewers (.477) and—for now—the Royals (.499). He hasn’t come particularly close to winning a Manager of the Year award, peaking at No. 3 in 2014, when Kansas City won a wild card with 89 wins.

Yet Yost has had a magic touch in the playoffs, going 22-9 with a .710 winning percentage that easily eclipses John Farrell (.688) and Terry Francona (.609) among active managers. Among active skippers, only Yost, Francona and Bruce Bochy have managed multiple World Series teams.

7. Joe Girardi • Yankees
Seasons: 9 || WS Titles: 1 || Pennants: 0 || Divisions: 3 || Playoffs: 5
Wins: 813 (79th) || 100 W: 1 || Points: 42

Manager of the Year: 2006 Marlins
Average Wins, 2013-15: 85

The Yankees broke a string of 13 straight postseason appearances in 2008, Girardi’s first year in the Bronx, but he redeemed himself with with a 103-win 2009 team that cruised to a World Series title with an 11-4 playoff record. He guided the Yankees to postseason appearances in 2010, 2011 and 2012, averaging nearly 96 wins per season, and also claimed an AL wild card in 2015. No active manager with at least 1,000 games under his belt has a higher winning percentage (.558) than Girardi.

8. Joe Maddon • Cubs
Seasons: 10 || WS Titles: 0 || Pennants: 1 || Divisions: 2 || Playoffs: 5
Wins: 878 (73rd) || 100 W: 0 || Points: 38

Manager of the Year: 2008 Rays, 2011 Rays, 2015 Cubs
Average Wins, 2013-15: 89

Maddon reeled off an incredible six straight winning seasons with the resourceful Rays from 2008 to 2013, and he stands as the ultimate player’s manager, but he needs more tenure, more wins and more pennants to advance his cause with the Hall monitor. Managing a loaded Cubs roster in 2016 is a great jumping off point for the second half of his career in the dugout.

9. Clint Hurdle • Pirates
Seasons: 12 || WS Titles: 0 || Pennants: 1 || Divisions: 0 || Playoffs: 4
Wins: 965 (64th) || 100 W: 0 || Points: 37

Manager of the Year: 2013 Pirates
Average Wins, 2013-15: 93

Hurdle has averaged 93 wins per season for the Pirates since 2013, but that has been good only for a trio of second-place finishes in the NL Central and a trio of win-or-go-home appearances in the Wild Card Game. He claimed his lone pennant (thus far) with the 2007 Rockies.

10. Bob Melvin • Athletics
Seasons: 10 || WS Titles: 0 || Pennants: 0 || Divisions: 3 || Playoffs: 4
Wins: 886 (70th) || 100 W: 0 || Points: 34

Manager of the Year: 2007 Diamondbacks, 2012 Athletics
Average Wins, 2013-15: 84

Like Joe Maddon did in Tampa Bay, Melvin has proven to be adept at finding creative solutions to mix and match players with the low-payroll Athletics. Oakland made three straight postseason appearances from 2012 to 2014 before falling flat in 2015. Previously, he won 93 games with the 2003 Mariners and guided the young 2007 Diamondbacks to the NL Championship Series.

Had Melvin managed one more game with the 2011 Athletics—he finished with 99 after taking over for Bob Geren—then he would have scored two more points in this system, but that wouldn’t move him up the ranking.

Best Of The Rest

• In four years at the helm, the Cardinals’ Mike Matheny owns a .579 winning percentage that leads all active managers, if you set aside a minimum threshold. He has four playoff appearances in four years, three NL Central division titles, an NL pennant in 2013 and a 100-win season in 2015. In other words, Matheny is off to an incredible start to his managerial career with 25 points and counting.

• The Mets’ Terry Collins picked up 11 points in 2015 to move to 34 for his career, mostly by virtue of an NL East division crown (three points) and NL pennant (five). He ranks 76th on the all-time list with 838 wins.

• In five years as a manager, John Farrell has two fourth-place finishes with the 2011 and 2012 Blue Jays and now two last-place finishes with the Red Sox in 2014 and 2015. However, in his other season in the dugout, Farrell won 97 games and the World Series with the 2013 Red Sox. He has 23 career points on the Hall of Fame monitor.

• The Marlins’ Don Mattingly won three consecutive NL West division titles with the Dodgers through 2015, yet he won only one postseason series in that time, sealing his fate in Los Angeles. Regardless, Mattingly has guided more playoff teams in his career (three) than Ned Yost (two), Terry Collins (one) or John Farrell (one). He has 23 points on the monitor.

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