25 greatest managers in MLB history

Bruce Bochy
Michael Marconi, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

There are undoubtedly countless candidates in the discussion for the best MLB managers of all-time. After all, the game has been around for well over a century, so there are dozens of managers who have won championships, not to mention those who never won a World Series but should still be considered among the greatest baseball managers.

In fact, it’s not just about being the leader of the most successful MLB teams; sometimes it’s more about being dedicated to the game and showing respect for baseball in the right ways.

Best MLB managers of all-time

Of course, no matter how you slice it, there are a lot of folks worthy of being mentioned among the best MLB managers ever. We were so afraid of leaving anyone out that we decide to rank the top 25 greatest baseball managers.

Everyone listed is worth remembering and played some kind of important role in baseball history. Having said that, here is our ranking of the 25 best MLB managers of all-time.

25. Lou Piniella

How could our list of the best managers not include Sweet Lou?

Lou Piniella won over 1,800 games as a manager across stints for five different teams. His best years came during his decade in Seattle when he won Manager of the Year honors twice, including the year the Mariners set a record with 116 wins during the regular season.

He later won the award in the National League with the Cubs, although some forget that Piniella actually managed the Reds to the 1990 World Series title. All in all, he managed 21-plus seasons, leading his teams to the playoffs seven times.

24. Davey Johnson

Davey Johnson had a long and distinguished managerial career that begin in 1984 with the Mets and continued through 2013 with the Nationals. In fairness, it wasn’t continuous, as Johnson only managed 17 seasons over 30 years.


But he did take his team to the postseason six times during that time, taking four of the five teams he managed to the playoffs at least once and winning the 1986 World Series with the Mets. Johnson also managed Team USA during the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Baseball Classic.

23. Billy Martin

It’s difficult to sum up Billy Martin’s time as a manager, as he had five different stints with the Yankees. He’s so linked with that franchise that people forget he also led the Twins, Tigers, and A’s to the playoffs and spent two-plus seasons with the Rangers.

Amidst all of that, Martin did manage the Yankees to a 100-win season and a World Series title in 1977. His wild and unpredictable managerial career included over 1,200 wins and a .553 winning percentage, which is enough to put him on a list of the best MLB managers of all-time.

22. Cito Gaston

Historically, Cito Gaston is somewhat overlooked as a manager, although he’s an important trailblazer as the first African-American manager to win the World Series.

Of course, he did so twice, leading the Blue Jays to back-to-back championships in 1992 and 1993. In total, he managed just under 12 seasons but made a tremendous impact during that time.

21. Bill McKechnie

Bill McKechnie played such a big role in baseball history that he must be mentioned. He won the World Series with both the Pirates and the Reds, becoming the first manager to win a championship with two different franchises.

McKechnie also had managerial stints with the Cardinals and Braves, helping him to rack up over 1,800 wins, which was good for fourth on the all-time list at the time he retired.

20. Earl Weaver

While he never played in the big leagues, Earl Weaver covered 17 seasons as manager of the Orioles across two different stints. He was very much a modern-day manager, throwing small-ball strategies out the window in favor of good pitching and lots of home runs.

That style paid off for a while, as Weaver led Baltimore to five division titles in a six-year span, including three 100-win seasons and the 1970 world championship. It was one of the best eras the Orioles have ever had, earning him a spot both in the Orioles Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

19. Terry Francona

Known affectionally as Tito, Terry Francona has had managerial stops with three different teams. His first stint with the Phillies didn’t go particularly well, but when he took over the Red Sox in 2004, Francona immediately helped that franchise end its long championship drought, ultimately winning two World Series in four years.

He’s also put together a good run in Cleveland, getting that franchise to the World Series in 2016 and winning 90-plus games five times in seven years. He may not rank as high as some of the best MLB managers of all-time, but he’s a legend in Boston and knows how to manage a winning ball club.

18. Dick Williams

Dick Williams was one of those managers who got around, never staying with the same team for too long. He managed 20 seasons with six different teams, managing each for three or four seasons.

Of course, that’s part of the reason why he’s one of two managers to win 90-plus games with at least four different teams. He’s best known for managing the A’s to back-to-back World Series wins in 1972 and 1973, helping him earn a spot in the Hall of Fame.

17. Jim Leyland

Jim Leyland is on the shortlist of managers to take teams from each league to the World Series, winning with the upstart Marlins in 1997. His overall record isn’t as impressive as some others, but he won over 1,700 games and was Manager of the Year three times.

Also, we shouldn’t forget that he was the manager of Team USA when the Americans won the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Of course, Leyland got that job because he was one of the most respected managers in the big leagues for a long time.

16. Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker is one of those baseball lifers who undoubtedly belongs on our list of the best MLB managers of all time.

To his credit, Baker was a good player, earning all-star invitations twice. But he’s also won Manager of the Year honors three times across stints with five different teams. He’s the first manager in MLB history to not only make the playoffs with five different teams but also to win a division title with five different teams.

In other words, he wins everywhere, and when he finally walks away, he’ll do so with well over 2,000 managerial wins.

15. Al Lopez

While he’s remembered mostly by baseball historians, Al Lopez ranks top-5 in managerial winning percentage among those who have stuck around long enough to manage more than 2,000 games, winning games at a .584 clip.

While he never won a World Series, Lopez never had a losing season during his first 15 seasons as a manager, which is why he boasts one of the best winning percentages of all time.

14. Leo Durocher

Nearly half a century after managing his last game, Leo Durocher still ranks in the top-10 all-time in wins for a manager with 2,008. He managed four different teams, most notably the Dodgers from 1939 to 1948 (minus the 1947 season), serving as a player-manager for most of those years.

His career was filled with controversy, as Durocher wasn’t afraid to speak his mind or bump heads with others. His managerial career also lacked postseason success outside of the 1954 World Series title with the New York Giants. But he was an unforgettable figure and a manager who won over 2,000 games.

13. Frank Chance

Frank Chance is an old-timer who managed during the first part of the 20th century and was universally lauded for his leadership skills. His first eight years as a manager were spent with the Cubs when he was a player-manager, leading Chicago to world championships in 1907 and 1908.

In fact, those years helped to give him the highest winning percentage in Cubs history. He spent just under two years with the Yankees and one season with the Red Sox late in his career with less success. But nobody else can claim that he took the Cubs to the World Series four times.

12. Casey Stengel

During his first nine years as an MLB manager, Casey Stengel had just one winning season and never finished better than fifth in the National League. Naturally, all of that changed when he went to the Yankees in 1949. He immediately led the Yanks to five straight World Series wins and seven championships in his 12 seasons.

In fact, the Yankees played in the World Series 10 times in Stengel’s 12-year tenure. Even if he had plenty of talent at his disposal, Stengel gets some of the credit. He was also brave enough to manage the Mets during their first three-plus seasons when they were an utter disaster on the field, going 40-120 during their inaugural season. However, we won’t hold that against Stengel too much.

11. Bruce Bochy

Despite being one of the best managers of the past 30 years, Bruce Bochy might somehow be underrated. He perhaps doesn’t get enough credit for overseeing three World Series titles with the Giants in a five-year span.

Before his days in San Francisco, Bochy managed the Padres for 12 seasons, leading them to four division titles and overseeing a long rebuilding project.

His success with both franchises makes him the only manager in MLB history with at least 900 wins with two teams. Born in France, Bochy was also the first European-born manager to win a World Series, so he’s made an impact on the game in a variety of ways.

10. Connie Mack

Among the best MLB managers of all time, Connie Mack holds most of the big records. Namely, he has the most wins, most losses, and most games managed. That’s what happens when you stay with the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 years.

He actually had a few seasons with the Pirates before that before managing the Athletics from 1901 to 1950. His career records of 3,582 wins and 3,814 losses will likely never be broken. Of course, that means he has a losing record overall.

But Mack also won five World Series during his managerial career and showed incredibly longevity by sticking around in the same job for half a century.

9. Joe Torre

Like so many of the best MLB managers of all time, Joe Torre has deep ties to the Yankees. You don’t win that many titles without having good managers, and Torre was undoubtedly one of them.

Of course, Torre wasn’t just the manager of the Yankees. He was a skipper for nearly 30 years, managing five different teams. However, he’s best known for managing the Yankees to four World Series wins in a span of five years, including their threepeat from 1998 to 2000.

Keep in mind the Yankees also won their division in 10 of Torre’s 12 years at the helm. He then won a pair of division titles with the Dodgers late in his managerial career, ultimately winning over 2,300 games during the regular season and 84 during the playoffs with a postseason winning percentage of .592.

8. Tommy Lasorda

There are few baseball people who were respected throughout their career more than Tommy Lasorda. He had a brief playing career with the Dodgers and then took over as their manager from 1976 to 1996. Lasorda was outspoken and passionate when it came to baseball.

He was also amazing when it came to grooming young players and getting them ready to play in the majors, as nine Dodgers won Rookie of the Year honors during his managerial tenure. Of course, Lasorda also won close to 1,600 games and two World Series titles, undoubtedly becoming one of the great managers of his generation.

7. Miller Huggins

Miller Huggins had a decent career as a player but really excelled as a manager. He first spent five seasons with the Cardinals and then went to the Yankees from 1918 to 1929, helping the Bronx Bombers win the World Series three times during that span.

When he came to the fundamentals of baseball, Huggins was a master. Also, he wasn’t afraid to tinker with his personnel despite the Yankees having so much success. Huggins was also looking for a way to improve and get an edge, which is what a good manager does. Along the way, he racked up over 1,400 wins and a 555% winning percentage.

6. Sparky Anderson

Who wouldn’t like a manager named Sparky?

Sparky Anderson was one of the best baseball minds of his generation and had an obvious passion for the game. He was the manager behind Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine in the 1970s, managing nine seasons and taking the Reds to the playoffs five times while winning back-to-back World Series in 1975 and 1976.

Anderson then spent 17 seasons managing the Tigers, leading Detroit to 13 winning seasons and the 1984 World Series title despite only reaching the playoffs twice during that stretch.

5. Bobby Cox

Not only was Bobby Cox one of the best people in baseball but he’s also one of the best MLB managers of all time. It’s a shame that he only won one World Series because he practically created a dynasty with the Braves, who won 14 straight division titles (not including the 1994 strike year) under Cox’s tutelage.

Among managers, he’s the all-time leader in playoff appearances and finished his career with over 2,500 wins. Perhaps more importantly, he holds the managerial record for most career ejections, which just means that Cox was a passionate guy who always put winning first.

4. Walter Alston

Among managers, Walter Alston is a true classic and one of a kind. He managed the Dodgers for 23 seasons from 1954 to 1976. He did so on a one-year contract every single year, which would have been unheard of in today’s game.

Alston is also noted for his calm demeanor, although he always got results. In his 23 seasons, he led the Dodgers to seven National League pennants and four World Series titles. He also oversaw the team’s move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, winning three of those World Series within eight years after the move to LA.

3. Tony La Russa

Among modern managers, they don’t get much better than Tony La Russa, who is also one of the best MLB managers of all time.

He’s also a baseball lifer, starting his managerial career with the White Sox in 1979, making a couple of other stops, and then going back to the White Sox in 2021 in his mid-70s.

He spent a decade with the small-market A’s, winning four division titles and a World Series, before spending 16 years in St. Louis, practically building a dynasty. La Russa became a legend there, leading the Cardinals to seven division titles and two world championships. Anything after that is just icing on the cake for the Hall of Famer.

2. John McGraw

John McGraw was one of the most aggressive players of the 19th century who became a player-manager early in his career, allowing him to spend more than three decades as an MLB manager, primarily with the New York Giants.

Thanks to his longevity, McGraw ranks third among managers on the all-time wins list. He’s best remembered for being a manager who only cares about winning and always found a way to get the best out of his players, ultimately leading the Giants to three World Series titles, including back-to-back championships in 1921 and 1922.

1. Joe McCarthy

Hopefully, you don’t get Joe McCarthy confused with former Senator Joseph McCarthy, who was quite infamous.

Joe McCarthy, on the other hand, is close to the consensus pick for the best manager in baseball history. He was the one in charge of the Yankees between 1931 and 1946, leading them to their seven World Series titles during that span. Of course, before his days with the Yankees, he took the Cubs to the World Series in 1929, making him the first manager to win the pennant in both leagues.

Only one other manager has matched his record of six 100-win seasons. Granted, he was given a lot of talent to work with, but McCarthy was able to consistently turn that talent not championship-caliber teams. 

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About Bryan Zarpentine 220 Articles
Bryan Zarpentine is a freelance writer and editor with most of his work focusing on the world of sports. He is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and still resides in upstate New York.

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