For this first week of the MLB postseason, we’re on a ranking spree. So far we’ve ranked every possible World Series matchup (R.I.P. our dreams of a Twins-Rockies World Series) and we’ve ranked how hateable each team is. Now we’re ranking managers.
We did this one last year too — and we did an encore partially to see how one year of baseball might shake things up. We’re happy to report they’ve been shaken. We’ve got a new No. 1 on the list. It’s no longer Cubs manager Joe Maddon, although he does still rank pretty high.
In this one, we’re basically asking: “Who would you want to manage your team?” Our four Big League Stew writers — Chris Cwik, Mike Oz, Liz Roscher and Mark Townsend — got a ballot and ranked the managers. We assigned nine points for first place, one point for last place and everything in the middle accordingly. Here are our results, plus the individual rankings at the bottom so you can get all up in our mentions if you so desire.
1. Terry Francona (Indians)
Francona deftly managed an injury-riddled pitching staff to the World Series last season by deploying his relievers early and often. They’re healthy this time around, giving Francona even more weapons. If Cleveland struggles, at least we’ll get updates on his late-night sweet tooth. (Chris Cwik)
2. Joe Maddon (Cubs)
Maddon’s quirky antics are often credited for keeping his teams loose. While they may annoy some, Maddon’s on-field decisions and willingness to juggle his roster make him one of the best technicians in the game. (Cwik)
3. AJ Hinch (Astros)
If not for Cleveland’s ridiculous win-streak, Houston would still be the talk on the AL. They have Hinch to thank for that. He managed playing time for multiple guys by using platoons and strategically moving players to other positions. He also got the best of his pitching staff, turning Brad Peacock and Charlie Morton into legitimate starters. (Cwik)
4. Dave Roberts (Dodgers)
He managed the most injury-riddled team to a playoff spot in 2016, and pushed them to the top of the standings in 2017. Roberts can navigate injuries, but also isn’t afraid to pull a struggling back-end starter and go to his bullpen. He’s been given a lot of talent, but he’s shown he can overcome adversity too. (Cwik)
5. Torey Lovullo (D-backs)
Lovullo turned a 69-93 team into a 93-69 team in his first season as D-backs manager, which is impressive on its own. The D-backs got a wild-card spot, but those 93 wins were actually fifth best in MLB. He took an under-achieving D-backs squad and made them exceed their potential — and he’ll probably win NL manager of the year for it. (Oz)
6. Dusty Baker (Nats)
Dusty gets a fair amount of criticism for being decidedly old school. Critics will say he wears out his pitchers and he’s never won the big one — but Baker’s most recent run with the Nats has to prove that he’s a better manager than his critics would admit. He took a Nats team that under-achieved with Matt Williams and made them a World Series contender. Now both Baker and his team need to get over their postseason hump. (Oz)
7. Bud Black (Rockies)
Black is a guy people around baseball love, but his success as a manager has never measured up to his reputation. He’s done a great job in his first year as Rockies skipper leading them into the postseason, but his overall record as a manager is still a lopsided 736-788, thanks for all those years in San Diego. (Oz)
8. Joe Girardi (Yankees)
Seeing Girardi at eight might seem like a slight, but think of it like this instead: The postseason is deep with great managers (imagine that!). Girardi, by all accounts, is fine at this job. Maybe he’s not as fun as Maddon or Francona in his interviews, but we don’t hate you, Joe, promise. (Oz)
9. John Farrell (Red Sox)
As recently as the last weekend of the regular season, some Red Sox fans were calling for Farrell to be fired. That’s not exactly what you think for a manager who won the AL East in back-to-back years. But Farrell does have his flaws — critics didn’t like his bullpen usage this year, his lineup construction at times and some of his decision-making — and another playoff exit will only put a bigger spotlight on them. (Oz)
Here’s how each of our writers voted:
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
– – – – – –