As the old saying goes, those who can’t do…teach! Well, these guys do a little bit better than that, as they all have participated in Major League Baseball as a professional athlete and then moved onto coaching at the same level they once competed. With the days of Pete Rose and the player-managers a thing of the past, players are basking in the glory of being a professional athlete and then moving into the front office. Perhaps it’s a natural transition, maybe even an inability to let go of the limelight but for most the part, these guys just love the game of baseball.
Only 10 of the 30 active managers in Major League Baseball have a decade or more experience coaching at the elite level. Surprisingly, two of the best known managers from that group did not make the cut because they never played baseball at the level they now coach. For consideration, a manager must have played in the major leagues and must go on to serve as manager for one of the thirty teams in Major League Baseball in order to qualify. In 2014, there is one manager that is fresh to the big leagues and hoping to fill some terribly big shoes, Brad Ausmus. Following Jim Leyland‘s retirement as manager of the Detroit Tigers, the former Major League catcher signed up to lead his old team.
While success is hard to measure equally across professional sports and baseball is no exception, at the end of the day, the one thing everybody remembers is who won. Although almost every manager in Major League Baseball today used to play baseball at some competitive level, it’s the ones that are able to excel in both areas that garner the most credibility. That’s not to say World Series titles and division pennants solely make the player, but hats off to anyone that can endure the pressure of being a professional athlete and continue to help those that came afterwards. With the 2014 regular season in full swing, let’s take a look at the top 10 most winningest player turned coaches in Major League Baseball.
10. Bud Black, San Diego Padres – 547 wins
Bud Black is a former left-handed pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, the Seattle Mariners, the Cleveland Indians, the Toronto Blue Jays and the San Francisco Giants. As a player, Black won the World Series with the Kansas City Royals in 1985 beating the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games. As a coach, Black won the World Series under Mike Scioscia with the Anaheim Angels in 2002. Despite a decent baseball career as a player and an impressive World Series title within the first 2 years as Angels’ pitching coach, Black has yet to see much success with the San Diego Padres. Since 2007, Bud Black has won 546 games out of 1148 with a career winning percentage of .476.
9. Ron Washington, Texas Rangers – 619 wins
With 8 years experience managing the Texas Rangers, former Major League shortstop, Ron Washington marks our list with 619 wins. During his tenure with the Rangers, Washington has lost 531 games with a postseason record of 18-16. Before taking over the Texas Rangers, Washington had been working his way through different leagues, teams and coaching positions since 1991. The Louisiana native replaced current Baltimore Orioles’ manager, Buck Showalter, in 2007 in hopes of guiding the Lone Star State towards success. Washington is credited with being a big part of Billy Beane‘s Moneyball success story with the Oakland Athletics.
8. Joe Girardi, New York Yankees – 651 wins
Joe Girardi played for the Chicago Cubs, the Colorado Rockies, the St. Louis Cardinals and the beloved New York Yankees during his 15-season career as a Major League catcher. Three years after retiring as a player, Girardi signed on to the Florida Marlins staff as manager. He only spent a year in Florida before signing a 3-year $7.5 million contract to be the New York Yankees’ skipper. With 8 years managerial experience, Girardi graces our list with an impressive 649-498 regular season record including a 21-17 postseason record as a manager in Major League Baseball.
7. Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics – 740 wins
Bob Melvin originally landed this gig as an interim position. The former Major League catcher played for the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox during his 10-year playing career. With 11 years of managerial experience, Melvin first looked over the Seattle Mariners in 2003 before taking over the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005 until he found a home in California. Now working through his fourth season with the A’s, Bob Melvin has an all-time winning record of 738-699 including a 7-10 postseason record.
6. Ned Yost, Kansas City Royals – 745 wins
Former Major League catcher, Ned Yost, had one of the shorter careers as an athlete with a brief 6-year run. Surprisingly, Yost was actually a member of the Milwaukee Brewers squad that lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1982 World Series. After retiring in 1985, Yost pursued other career opportunities before paying his dues as a coach. In 2003, Yost would return to the Brewers as their manager only to leave Milwaukee six years later with a losing 457-502 record during his time in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, Yost’s numbers have not much improved since his Brew Crew days and his all-time win-loss record is 747 – 838 over 11 years as a manager in Major League Baseball.
5. Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates – 786 wins
During Hurdle’s days in the Big Leagues, he was an outfielder with the Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals. After 10 years playing Major League Baseball, Hurdle worked his way up to become manager of the Colorado Rockies during which time he led the team to its first National League pennant. Hurdle was named manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2010 offseason. After threes years with the Pirates, he seems to have found some success. Last season, Clint Hurdle was not only able to guide Pittsburgh to its first winning season since 1992, but he managed to coach them to their first playoff berth in 21 years. During his 12-year career as a Major League manager, Clint Hurdle has a 786 – 874 record.
4. Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins – 1004 wins
Ron Gardenhire was drafted by the New York Mets during the 1979 Major League Draft. Despite staying in New York until 1985, Gardenhire’s career was constantly held back by injuries until he retired. His first full-time manager position came in 2002 with the Minnesota Twins after replacing Tom Kelly. Entering his 13th season with the Twins, Gardenhire has a 1004-954 career record. He is the 10th manager in history to have won more than 1000 games with one team. Unfortunately, the Twins haven’t won a World Series since 1991 and Gardenhire’s playoff record in Minnesota is a dismal 6-21.
3. Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians – 1128 wins
Terry “Tito” Francona is arguably one of the most well-known figures in Major League Baseball today. The son of former Major League player, Tito Francona, Terry grew up around broken bats, clubhouse conversation and chewing tobacco. Little Francona played from 1981 to 1990 with the Montreal Expos, the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds, the Cleveland Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers before retiring. In 1997, Terry took on his first manager’s position with the Philadelphia Phillies. Unfortunately, he was never able to lead the Phillies to a winning season over the 4-year occupation. It wasn’t until 2004 when Terry Francona became the Boston Red Sox’s manager that he found his groove. Francona quickly took control of things by breaking the Curse of the Bambino and leading the Red Sox to arguably the greatest comeback in professional sports history. Today, Francona is the manager of the Cleveland Indians.
2. Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels – 1240 wins
Mike Scioscia has been the Angels’ manager since they were in Anaheim. This season marks Scioscia’s fourteenth season in California making him the longest-tenured manager in Major League Baseball. Scioscia was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1976 and stayed there until being traded to the San Diego Padres for the 1993 season and finally with the Texas Rangers for the 1994 season, though he didn’t play a single game with either team due to injuries.. In 2000, the former Major League catcher became the 16th manager of the Los Angeles Angels and was named 2002 and 2009 American League Manager of the Year. Currently, Mike Scioscia boasts a 1240-1043 all-time record.
1. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants – 1540 wins
The 38th manager of the San Francisco Giants is the most experienced and the winningest active manager in Major League Baseball. After coaching the San Diego Padres to two National League pennants in 12 years, Bochy went across the bay to San Francisco. Entering his 8th season with the Giants, the former Major League catcher led the San Francisco Giants to two World Series championships between 2010-2012. According to ESPN, Bochy posted a 951-975 record while managing the Padres and has an all-time 15340-1535 winning record.