Over the offseason, the team of contributors at Baseball Essential voted upon every position on the diamond, compiling our comprehensive Top 15 countdowns for the 2018 season.
Major League Baseball is overflowing with youth and skill, but don’t forget about the rugged veterans we all know and love. These Top 15 rundowns will feature a splendid mix of young, exuberant athletes, and the aged, mature individuals who mentor them. As for the positions, we will unveil the top 15 starting pitchers, relievers, catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, shortstops, left fielders, center fielders, and right fielders, as well as the foremost designated hitters, utilitymen, and managers, over the next few weeks.
Our voting format is simple. The team of writers and analysts at BBE were given ballots a few weeks back for their top 10 individuals at each spot. A first-placed vote is worth 10 points, second-place is good for nine, and so on.
As the spring training season starts to get underway, you will see these countdowns published prior to the beginning of another exciting MLB season. To keep track of the Top 15 lists you might have missed, stay posted to the Top 15 tag on the site.
In the rundown, we list the player, their position among the list, and how many points they have received in the voting. Now, you’re ready. Here are MLB’s Top 15 managers for the 2018 season.
There are no honorable mentions. Everything is stupid and nothing matters. Keep scrolling.
John Gibbons – 15th (1)
Known for being hard on his players throughout his managerial career, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons generally creates results from his strict, controlling style. After two separate stints with the Jays, the first from 2004 to 2008 and the next from 2013 to present day, Gibbons’ career record sits at 720-700 (.507 winning percentage).
Gibbons has led the Blue Jays to an American League East title and 10 total postseason victories in his time with Toronto. The 55-year-old helped the Blue Jays to a 76-86 record in 2017 and has previously received votes for AL Manager of the Year twice.
Craig Counsell – 14th (7)
After two stints with the Milwaukee Brewers as a player, Craig Counsell is now making the lineups rather than appearing on them. For a Brew Crew team that’s trending upward, Counsell might be the perfect manager; he’s known as a forgiving, pleasant dugout presence, which goes a long way for youthful players.
Counsell led the Brewers to a surprise 86-76 record in 2017 to up his career win/loss table to 220-241 (.477). He won’t have a losing record for long with a Milwaukee club that seems ready to contend. Counsell finished fourth in the NL Manager of the Year voting in 2017.
Bud Black – 13th (7)
Formerly the NL Manager of the Year with the San Diego Padres, Bud Black had a successful first season with the Colorado Rockies, during which he led the purple and black to a 87-75 record and an appearance in the NL Wild Card Game. Despite an extremely tough NL West to look up at, Black remained calm and kept his players believing in the system.
The one thing that has eluded the 60-year-old, whose career record is 736-788 (.483), is a win in the MLB postseason. With a formidable and skilled Rockies lineup at his disposal, Black might exorcise those demons in 2018.
Andy Green – 12th (8)
From past Padres managers to current, Andy Green mans the dugout in San Diego as the guy tasked with turning a mediocre franchise into a star-studded winner. It hasn’t been easy in the first two years of his career, as Green is 139-185 (.429) including a dismal 71-91 last season, but things are turning around quickly in San Diego.
At just 40 years old, Green has plenty of time to implement his system for success, and with great young players to build around like Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe, it won’t be long until Green is making decisions in the postseason.
Paul Molitor – 11th (13)
The pride of Minnesota, Paul Molitor, is a Hall of Famer for the Minnesota Twins as a player and now the 2017 American League Manager of the Year as a bench boss. Molitor led the Twins to a surprise Wild Card run in 2017, and now will point them in the right direction as they look like real contenders again.
After three seasons with the Twins, the 61-year-old sits at 227-259 (.467) for his managerial career. With the top award for managers under his belt, Molitor will look for more to further cement his already lasting legacy in baseball.
Clint Hurdle – 10th (15)
Clint Hurdle has had to deal with a lot of losing, but under the right circumstances, the 60-year-old is a fine manager with a strong influence on his players. With the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, Hurdle went 75-87, but has a higher ceiling than a middling manager.
Hurdle has previously won the NL pennant as the Rockies manager and taken the Pirates, who had previously suffered 20 straight losing seasons, to the postseason as recently as 2015. Hurdle, 1,118-1,174 for his career (.488) , has won the NL Manager of the Year Award once in five times recieving votes and managed the 2008 NL All-Star team.
Jeff Banister – 9th (15)
Despite managing the Texas Rangers to an underwhelming 78-84 in 2017, Jeff Banister has had a pretty solid start to his career as a bench boss. The 54-year-old has won two AL West division titles, an MoY Award, and been a runner-up for that said honor in just three seasons of work.
Banister is a guy that seems to get every last bit of effort out of his guys come game time. That trait will pay off for Banister, a career 261-225 (.537) record holder, as a depleted Rangers squad looks to make a playoff charge.
Mike Scioscia – 8th (19)
Being the longest-tenured manager in the major leagues is something that will distinguish you from the pack with ease. Mike Scioscia is that and more for the Los Angeles Angels, and his career accomplishments speak for themeselves: World Series champ, two-time Manager of the Year, and an unbelievable 18 years at the helm of the Halos.
Scioscia is an old school student of the game of baseball, and manages like so: casual and reserved when he needs to be, yet frantic and unexpected at times. The 59-year-old is 1,570-1,346 (.538) in his career.
Torey Luvollo – 7th (20)
To say Torey Lovullo had anything less than a magnificent 2017 is to write a lie. Lovullo led the Arizona Diamondbacks to the NL postseason, during which they won the Wild Card Game and appeared in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, all in his first season as the main man in the D-backs dugout.
Lovullo, whose career record after one year is 93-69 (.574), took home his rightful NL Manager of the Year Award after the season. To step into a team with orginzational dysfunction and previous managerial issues and carry them to the postseason, finishing second-place in the sport’s toughest division, is nothing short of incredible. This isn’t the last we’ll hear of Lovullo.
Buck Showalter – 6th (20)
Buck Showalter is one of those managers who’s never afraid to take risks. Whether they pay off or not, a bold manager is a fun and often successful manager, and Showalter is exactly that. The former New York Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and current Baltimore Orioles bench boss has used that approach to build contenders out of pretenders in no time.
The O’s are no exception, as Showalter has led Baltimore to three postseason showings in six years; before that, playoff baseball had not been played by an Orioles team since 1997. The 61-year-old holds a career record of 1,504-1,402 (.517) and has won AL Manager of the Year three times.
A.J. Hitch – 5th (45)
A.J. Hinch‘s tenure with the Diamondbacks was a disaster: 89-123 after joining midway through 2009 as manager before being fired in 2010. I’m a Houston Astros, so I take it as a blessing of sorts; Hinch has been one of the best managers in baseball with the ‘Stros, a sentence that his 2017 World Series ring can mark with an exclamation point.
One underrated aspect of baseball managing that Hinch excels at is recognizing an individual player’s slump and working to fix it. Whether that’s rearranging the batting order, manuevering players in and out of the lineup, that’s an A.J. Hinch specialty. The 43-year-old is now 360-338 (.516) after last season’s 101-61 effort.
Dave Roberts – 4th (46)
Just like Hinch, Dave Roberts took control of a team looking for one final spark, and the 45-year-old delivered in a big way for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In just two seasons in L.A., Roberts has gone 195-129 (.602), including last year’s pennant-winning 104-win season. Roberts took home the NL MoY the year prior.
They say that MLB role players make for the best managers, never do former superstars. Roberts was a utility outfielder for five different teams in just 10 years, and now has the Dodgers prepared for perputual success atop MLB’s strongest division. Maybe that line of thinking is correct.
Terry Francona – 3rd (48)
Maybe there are managers in this sport that are better than Terry Francona at what they do, but there surely isn’t a skipper more likable and relatable than the man they call “Tito.” That, and two World Series titles, three AL pennants, and two Manager of the Year Awards make Francona one of the most legendary and intelligent managers, not only in 2018, but in history.
Francona led the Cleveland Indians on a historic 22-game winning streak en route to the AL’s best record in 2017, going 102-60 to improve the 58-year-old’s all-time record to 1,483-1,269 (.539). Francona’s career is screaming Hall of Fame at this point, and he still isn’t done.
Bruce Bochy – 2nd (51)
The San Francisco Giants lost 98 games last season, and yet, nobody (to my knowledge) was calling for a firing of manager Bruce Bochy. If that seems weird, it’s because it is, but no manager is that far above any hot seat like Bochy, as the former NL Manager of the Year has brought three pennants and three World Series titles to San Fran.
Bochy can act with impunity even after a miserable 2017 at AT&T Park, solely because he’s Bruce Bochy. His career record hovers around .500, at 1,853-1,855, but only nine managers before him have won over 1,600 games, and all nine are Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. Giants fans will forget all about 2017 and their recent off years when Bruce gets his bust in Cooperstown.
Joe Maddon – 1st (63)
In addition to being an absolute delight and a character in the Chicago Cubs dugout, Joe Maddon is a brilliant manager, voted the best by our panel of writers. A winner of two pennants (one in each league, which isn’t easy), three Manager of the Year Awards, and the 2016 World Series, Maddon has a list of accomplishments that stand out without the need for any explaining.
Maddon has spent the last three years with the Cubs, transforming them from the laughing stock of the NL to yearly title contenders by going 292-193 over the past three seasons. His career record 1,073-922 (.538), and he has been a MoY finalist five times. The Cubs seemed locked in in the running for another pennant, and the best manager in baseball is going to lead them there.