The 26 Greatest Managers in MLB History
In the high-stakes world of Major League Baseball, where every pitch and play can make or break a season, there are a select few who have mastered the art of managing the game. These baseball wizards are the architects of victory, the strategists behind the scenes, and the unsung heroes who make it all happen. From legendary skippers who’ve etched their names in history to the unsung maestros who’ve shaped the game, we count down the 26 greatest to ever do it.
26. Charlie Comiskey
Sure, Charlie Comiskey’s legacy has been tarnished over the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal, but he was a fine manager before that debacle. Comiskey won four pennants and the 1886 World Series with the St. Louis Browns between 1885-1888. Comiskey posted an impressive .608 winning percentage in less than 10 years as a manager. Overall, Comiskey’s team finished with a winning record in 11 of the 12 seasons he was in charge. After his Cincinnati Reds went 55-75 in 1894, Comiskey retired with a managerial record of 839-540.
25. Bob Melvin
From 2011-2021, Bob Melvin patrolled Oakland’s dugout and somewhat flew under the national radar. Melvin led the A’s to back-to-back 97-win seasons in 2018-19, and a third-straight trip to the postseason in ’20. Despite dealing with financial limitations, Melvin has consistently proven he can manage with the best of them. After two years in charge of the San Diego Padres — the team reached the NLCS in 2022 — Melvin parted ways with the club for an opportunity to coach the San Francisco Giants. As he enters his first season in charge of the Giants, Melvin sports a career-record of 1,517-1,425 in 20 seasons.
24. Dusty Baker
Before taking over as manager for the Houston Astros in place of AJ Hinch (who had been suspended), Dusty Baker last coached in 2017 when he led the Washington Nationals to a 97-win season. In fact, Baker’s last four seasons as a manager had finished with between 90-97 wins. The knock on Baker was that he had never won it all. In his first year with the Astros, Baker saw his team finish the regular season with a losing record (29-31)…only to reach Game 7 of the ALCS. In 2021, Baker’s Astros won the American League Pennant before falling to Atlanta in the World Series. Baker finally won the elusive World Series in 2022, and retired following Houston’s ALCS loss in ’23. Overall, Baker has a record of 2,183-1,862-1.
23. Joe Maddon
Maddon’s inclusion might be a bit of a head-scratcher, but there are two reasons he’s worthy. No. 1: He guided a then-lowly Tampa Bay franchise to an AL pennant — its first winning season in franchise history. No. 2: Maddon pulled off perhaps the biggest miracle ever when he became the first manager since Frank Chance to win a World Series with the Chicago Cubs. Maddon led the Cubs to 92 or more wins in four of his five seasons with the club. Maddon managed the Los Angeles Angels for three seasons (2020-2022), and is currently a free agent.
22. Terry Francona
Like Maddon, Francona is a curse-breaker. He ended the Boston Red Sox’s 86-year World Series drought in 2004 — in his first season as the team’s manager — and then claimed another ring in 2007. Following his run in Boston, he tried to guide the Cleveland Guardians to their first world championship since 1948. They came close in 2016, but blew a 3-1 series lead to Maddon’s Cubs. After 11 years in charge of the Guardians, Francona stepped away from his position following the 2023 season.
21. Billy Martin
Colorful can’t really begin to describe Martin, but passionate should also be included in the description. Martin was not for everyone, certainly not a lot of players. But he went toe-to-toe with the likes of George Steinbrenner and Reggie Jackson and came away with two AL pennants and the 1977 World Series title as manager of the New York Yankees. Despite winning 55-percent of the games he managed, Martin had his fair share of moments on-and-off the field. Over 16 years, Martin was ejected 48 times and won 1,253 games.
20. Fred Clarke
One of the great player-managers, Clarke won four pennants for the Pittsburgh Pirates in that capacity. The crowning jewel of his career came with the Pirates’ 1909 World Series title. The triumph was a long time coming. From 1901-03, Clarke and the Pirates won three-straight National League pennants. Between 1901-09, the Pirates won 90 or more games eight times — culminating with a 110-42 record. Clarke ranks among the top-25 managers in baseball history with 1,602 wins.
19. Leo Durocher
Sure, Durocher could be volatile — especially with the umpires — but he also won more than 2,000 games, three pennants and a World Series (1954 with the New York Giants) as a manager. Durocher’s legacy draws mixed opinions — while the success was there, it often came with a win-at-all-cost attitude and approach to the game. Still, it was worthy enough for Hall of Fame inclusion. In addition to managing the Giants, Durocher was also the skipper for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and Houston Astros.
18. Frank Chance
He was part of the most famous double-play combination in baseball history with Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers, and was also one of the greatest managers of his time. Chance, perhaps the best player-manager ever, guided the Chicago Cubs to back-to-back World Series titles in 1907 and 1908 — and won two more National League pennants. Chance’s .593 winning percentage as a manager ranks among the best ever. In eight years as manager of the Cubs, Chance compiled a 768-389 record.
17. Danny Murtaugh
Murtaugh traversed through a nine-season playing career with Pittsburgh, but it was as a manager that he really enjoyed success with the Pirates. He was the skipper of Pittsburgh’s 1960 squad that won the World Series courtesy of Bill Mazeroski’s legendary series-ending homer in Game 7. And later, the manager of the 1971 group that rallied past the Baltimore Orioles for the title. Before becoming the manager of the Buccos, Murtaugh managed both of Pittsburgh’s Double-A affiliates — the New Orleans Pelicans (1952-54) and the unaffiliated Triple-A Charleston Senators.
16. Miller Huggins
The manager of the famed “Murderers Row” New York Yankees of the 1920s, Huggins was blessed with plenty of talent. Perhaps, that’s why he’s not higher on the list. Then again, Huggins had no trouble mixing it up with Babe Ruth during his tenure in New York. Huggins passed away at the age of 51, just one year after winning his last of three World Series titles with the Yankees in 1928. In total, Huggins won three World Series, six AL pennants, and 1,413 games.
15. Bill McKechnie
McKechnie is one-of-two managers to win three pennants with three different teams — Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati. The “Deacon” was also the first manager to win a World Series with two different clubs, guiding the Pittsburgh Pirates to the crown in 1925, and the Cincinnati Reds in 1940. McKechnie, who won just shy of 1,900 games (1,896) as a big-league skipper, was also alongside player-manager Lou Boudreau for Cleveland’s most recent title in 1948.
14. Dick Williams
Joining McKechnie as the only two managers to win three pennants with three different clubs, Williams was among one of baseball’s great personalities. He guided the high-powered Oakland Athletics teams to back-to-back World Series titles in 1972 and 1973. However, his best managerial job might have been taking an afterthought 1967 Red Sox group all the way to the World Series. In 1984, Williams led the San Diego Padres to the World Series — where they lost to the Detroit Tigers in five games. The Hall of Famer retired with two World Series and four pennants.
13. Bruce Bochy
Entering the 2024 season, Bruce Bochy is 10th all-time in wins with 2,093 victories. More importantly, Bochy is just 1-of-6 managers to win at least four World Series. The first three came with the San Francisco Giants (2010, 2012 and 2014), and the fourth came with the Texas Rangers in 2023. That’s quite remarkable in this day, especially when one team winning a single title in a decade is a difficult challenge. Bochy made it look easy. Before guiding San Francisco to three rings, Bochy managed the San Diego Padres from 1995-2006. In ’98, the Padres won the National League before falling to the New York Yankees in the World Series. After spending three years away from the game, Bochy returned to the dugout in ’23 and led Texas to its first World Series title.
12. Bucky Harris
Harris became the youngest manager in Major League history when he took over the Washington Senators in 1924. At 28 years old, Harris promptly led the famed franchise to its lone World Series triumph that year. The following year, Washington once again won the pennant but lost in the World Series. It wasn’t until 1947 that Harris claimed his next World Series title as a manager — leading the New York Yankees to victory in a seven-game classic against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Harris ranks in the top-10 with 2,159 managerial victories.
11. Tommy Lasorda
Another great character of the game, Tommy Lasorda shined as bright as any star in the Hollywood night. In fact, he was probably more popular than most entertainers living in Los Angeles at the time. In 21 years managing the Dodgers, Lasorda won close to 1,600 games, four NL pennants and two World Series (1981, 1988). He also had a knack for molding young talent and knew how to have fun and enjoy the game.
10. Bobby Cox
Considering all the success he had with the Atlanta Braves, the only disappointing aspect of Cox’s managerial career is that he captured just one World Series crown (1995). His Braves did win five pennants (’91, ’92, ’95, ’96, ’99), and Cox’s 2,504 victories rank fourth all-time among Major League skippers. Often overshadowed by his time with the Braves is that Cox won a division title with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1985 — the Jays finished the year 99-62.
9. Earl Weaver
Ask just about any player who put on a uniform for Weaver and they are likely to say how inspirational a figure he was in their life. It was not necessarily for what he said, but how he carried himself and his willingness to go to war for his team. Weaver, who won four pennants and the 1970 World Series with Baltimore, was as old-school as it gets. He knew strong pitching and a good defense were the backbone of any elite club. In 17 years as Baltimore’s skipper, Weaver went 1,480-1,060.
8. Walter Alston
Tommy Lasorda might be the most popular manager in the storied history of the Dodgers, but Walter Alston should be considered the greatest. Not only did he win more than 2,000 games as a skipper (2,040), Alston brought the Dodgers their only title while in Brooklyn (1955). Then, after the club moved to Los Angeles, he won three more (’59, ’63, ’65) with some help from a southpaw named Sandy Koufax. In his 23-year run as the Dodgers’ manager, Alston guided the franchise to seven pennants.
7. Sparky Anderson
One of the most beloved managers ever, Anderson guided Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” to back-to-back World Series triumphs in 1975 and 1976. Nearly a decade later, Anderson won another title with a dominant Detroit Tigers club in 1984. During his 26 years as a manager, Anderson won 2,194 games – good for sixth-most in the history of Major League Baseball.
6. Joe Torre
Following a great career as a player, Torre’s run as a manager toiled in his early days with the New York Mets before finding some success with Atlanta and St. Louis. However, it was with the Yankees where Torre’s managerial legacy was truly written. He guided New York to six American League pennants and four World Series titles, including three in a row from 1998-2000. His 2,326 victories rank fifth all-time.
5. Tony La Russa
Thanks to his managerial wisdom, La Russa is a legend with two clubs — the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals. He won six pennants combined during his time in Oakland and St. Louis. In 1989, he guided the A’s to the World Series title and twice claimed the crown with the Cardinals (2006 and 2011). He was a fierce competitor as a manger and almost always got the best from just about every player on his roster. La Russa, who also guided the White Sox to a division crown in 1983, returned to the dugout in 2021 following a 10-year absence. La Russa led the White Sox to 93 wins in ’21 and is second all-time in wins with 2,884.
4. Connie Mack
Often considered the greatest players’ manager in the history of the game, Mack’s longevity is almost as impressive as his success. In 53 years as a manager — 50 of which were with the Philadelphia Athletics — Mack won five World Series titles (’10, ’11, ’13, ’29 and ’30) and nine pennants. He owns the Major League records for wins (3,731) and losses (3,948) among managers all-time. Mack’s coaching career began with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he served as a player/manager from 1894-96. Then, Mack was in charge of the A’s from 1901-1950. Remarkable.
3. John McGraw
Not many managers in the history of the Majors have a better winning percentage than McGraw (.586). He’s won the third-most games (2,763) of any manager, and claimed 10 pennants and three World Series with the New York Giants (1905, 1921 and 1922). McGraw managed the Giants for 31 seasons and only finished with a losing record on four occasions. His name isn’t mentioned as much as it should be when talking about baseball’s greatest skippers.
2. Joe McCarthy
McCarthy managed three of the most storied franchises in baseball (Cubs, Yankees and Red Sox). In 24 seasons as a manager, McCarthy never had a losing record. He won nine pennants — the first manager to win in both leagues — and led the Yankees to seven World Series titles, including four-straight from 1936-39. Yes, he was graced with some of the game’s best talent, but someone had to keep it all in line. McCarthy excelled with all three clubs, as well. In Chicago, McCarthy went 442-321 and led the Cubs to the National League pennant in 1929. While managing the Red Sox, McCarthy’s team went 223-145 in a little more than two seasons.
1. Casey Stengel
It might be a tie between Yogi Berra and Stengel when it comes to the greatest characters in the game. Before piling up those managerial losses with the expansion New York Mets — Stengel’s club went 175-404 in those four brutal years — Stengel won 10 pennants and seven World Series titles with the Yankees, including five in a row from 1949-53. Stengel fell shy of 2,000 victories (1,905), but just edged McCarthy for this particular honor.