Members of MLB front offices are as popular and well known as managers on many teams in today's games, but managers still play an important role in their teams' successes and failures. Here's a look at all 30 MLB managers from top to bottom entering the 2021 season.
Francona has 20 years of experience, winning two World Series with Boston and appearing in one more with Cleveland. Back when he took the Indians job in 2013, there were questions about whether he could turn the franchise into a winner. Of course, he has eight consecutive winning seasons and five playoff appearances to show for it. He's deservedly considered on the shortlist of the best managers of this era.
Cash took over in Tampa Bay when Joe Maddon departed for the Cubs in 2015, and he's built his own legacy with two 90-plus win seasons and a World Series appearance last year. Tampa Bay has continued to operate with one of the lowest budgets in the game, and Cash has innovated in much the same way that his predecessor did with pitcher and bullpen handling, platoons, and defensive shifts. He has his work cut out for him in 2021 after losing aces Blake Snell and Charlie Morton but should be up to the task.
Maddon is one of the most innovative managers in baseball over the last 15 years, popularizing the defensive shift and consistently leading winners. He turned the Rays organization around in 2005, and just as impressively broke the World Series curse with the Cubs. Unfortunately, Maddon wore out his welcome with Chicago, and the Angels continued to struggle in his first season in LA. In more recent years, some of his in-game management has been head-scratching, but that shouldn't take away from all that Maddon has accomplished.
Hinch guided the Astros organization from rebuild to three straight 100-win seasons, two pennants, and a World Series title over five years, but he was banned for 2020 following the sign-stealing scandal. Houston's loss is Detroit's gain, as Hinch takes over a rebuilding organization loaded with young talent. He was the perfect hire for the task.
Cora returns to Boston's dugout after a year out of the game for his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, and the team is thrilled to have him back. Boston won 108 games and a World Series title in Cora's first season in 2018, before regressing to win 84 games the following year. His quest for short-term success will be tougher with a team in a mini rebuild as Chris Sale heals, but Cora has proven a capable manager with a blend of old and new school thinking.
La Russa is a Hall of Famer, as one of the greatest managers to ever do it, but it remains to be seen if he can evolve in today's game. It's been 10 years since he was last in the dugout, and baseball is much different, for better or worse. Of course, La Russa was a pioneer for some of the features of the game we see today like defensive versatility and the closer.
Roberts faced criticism for never leading the uber-talented Dodgers to a championship in his first four seasons, but he finally broke the spell last year. He's certainly made his share of mistakes in-game management, but Roberts has also led the team to three World Series in four years and won the NL West in all five for his seasons.
Counsell was a scrappy utilityman as a player who got the most out of his ability, and he's similarly impressive as a manager. He took over Milwaukee in 2015 and posted three consecutive winning seasons from 2017-2019, leading teams that seemed to consistently perform better than the sum of their parts. Counsell employs defensive shifts, platoons, and quick hooks with the best of them, while also garnering the fondness of his players.
There's very little to take issue with from Baldelli's track record, leading the Twins to back-to-back NL Central titles in his two seasons. He comes from the Rays school of game management and has been able to employ new-school thinking while also leading more dynamic talent. The start of his career couldn't be more promising.
Boone leads a highly talented team with a huge wallet, but he's still had to overcome some obstacles in his first three seasons. In particular, Boone has done a masterful job with his team seemingly unscathed by big injuries like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Luis Severino in past years. Still, the team has yet to find the playoff success that fans and ownership expect.
Philly hoped the addition of Girardi last year would help them turn the corner after failing to do so with Gabe Kapler, but he couldn't do anything about a roster with huge blemishes. Girardi had an impressive run with the Marlins and Yankees earlier in his career, including a World Series Championship in 2009, though the Yanks sometimes underachieved during his watch.
Baker's old-school ways can be frustrating for fans, but there might not be a more beloved player's manager. He seemed like the right hire at the right time for the Astros after their sign-stealing scandal, even though a myriad of injuries led the team to a sub-.500 record last season. Over 23 seasons, Baker has been a consistent winner, though he has only one World Series appearance.
Melvin has consistently gotten the most out of his talent in his 17 seasons as a manager with the Mariners, Diamondbacks, and A's, winning three Manager of the Year Awards with six 90-plus win seasons. Oakland's talented core has a chance to push the organization and Melvin to the playoff success they've long craved.
Shildt's in-game management has been a clear strength since he took over for Mike Matheny in 2018, and he's done very well with the talent that he's been given by a front office that has made some questionable moves recently. The long-time baseman man has three winning campaigns to show for his work, along with two playoff appearances, and it's hard to see how the team could have performed any better with a different manager at the helm.
Snitker is an old-school manager, but he's successfully guided the Braves to annual division winners again. After winning only 72 games in his first full season in 2017, Atlanta won 90 in 2018, 97 in 2019, and went 35-25 last year. With the NL East getting tougher, Snitker's managerial acumen will be tested, but he gets an A so far.
Mattingly deservingly won Manager of the Year last season after the Marlins overcame a COVID-19 outbreak to post a winning record and even find some success in the playoffs. Miami looks like it's finally ready to turn the corner after yet another rebuild, though Mattingly's performance in 2021 could be pivotal. He also had three 90-plus win seasons in five years with the Dodgers.
Lovullo led the Diamondbacks to surprising success in 2017, his first year at the helm, with 93 wins and a playoff berth. Since then, the team has been in a bit of a rebuild, but the abbreviated 2020 season was his first without a winning record. It's difficult to call his early managerial career anything but successful.
Martinez's first year in Washington was a disappointment with only 82 wins, and fans were calling for his head early in 2019 before the team turned their season around and won a World Series. It was back to mediocrity last year due in large part to injuries, and the challenges are greater now with the pitching staff fending off father time. Martinez gets a few mulligans for winning it all, but the Nats need to get on track soon.
The Padres hope Tingler is the right manager at the right time, taking over a Padres team budding with talent. He did the job well in his first season, finishing 37-23 with some playoff success, to boot, and the team is on the shortlist of the most talented heading into 2021.
Ross had big shoes to fill when he replaced Joe Maddon last year, and the Cubs did very well to finish 34-26 considering the struggles of Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Kyle Schwarber. The task looks much tougher this season after trading Yu Darvish and losing Schwarber in free agency, but the former catcher could be the right man to handle a pitching staff in flux.
Montoyo is clearly well liked in the Blue Jays clubhouse, and gets a lot of credit for leading Toronto over .500 last year despite being displaced from their home and playing in Buffalo. After an offseason of spending and emerging young stars, the expectations are now much higher.
Kapler is an outside-the-box thinker with extensive playing and front office experience, but he had trouble leading a flawed Phillies roster in 2018-2019. His Giants did exceed expectations with 29 wins last year, and his experience leading young players would seem to be a better fit for his current situation than the previous one.
Matheny frustrated Cardinals fans with his handling of the bullpen and hard-headedness before he was fired in 2018, his seventh season. He seems to have adjusted a bit after KC hired him in 2020, and it should be noted that Matheny never had a losing season with the Cardinals.
Black has consistently led his teams in San Diego and Colorado to exceed expectations, but many of his personnel decisions and handling of young players can also be frustrating. After leading Colorado to the playoffs in his first two seasons, the Rox have struggled in consecutive years with very low expectations for 2021. The situation probably won't end well for the 63-year-old as the team rebuilds.
Servais has two winning seasons in five years with Seattle, as the team has seemingly been caught in between going for it and rebuilding during his time. The expectations aren't very high in 2021 after consecutive losing seasons, but Servais will have the benefit of elite prospects like Jarred Kelenic arriving.
Woodward's team overachieved in 2019 even to win 78 games, with terrific seasons from Lance Lynn and Mike Minor. After winning only 22 games last year, the Rangers blew up the team this offseason, and are hoping Woodward can lead the team in a different phase. He's shown an old-school demeanor, leaving his starters in for higher pitch counts than most teams and also showing a willingness to run, but it remains to be seen how Woodward will handle the next chapter.
Bell's early managerial career has been a disappointment considering the managerial family tree that he comes from and the talent that he's guided. After winning only 75 games in 2019, the Reds made the playoff last year at 31-29 with a team that still underachieved considering the three aces on their pitching staff. Getting the Reds to the playoffs this year following the losses of Trevor Bauer and Raisel Iglesias would make the criticism disappear.
Rojas was in a tough spot last year after the Mets' first choice, Carlos Beltran, was let go due to the Astros sign-stealing scandal. A fourth-place finish wasn't much of a surprise with the team's injuries, but the expectations are much higher now with new ownership and a bigger budget.
Hyde hasn't had much of a chance to spread his wings in a complete rebuild, since taking the O's job in 2019. Baltimore has been one of the worst teams in the game over the last two years, through no fault of Hyde.
Shelton gets an incomplete after a disastrous first season as manager, with the Pirates finishing 19-41 last season. It's going to be a long road back to competitiveness for the rebuilding organization, though Shelton has extensive experience developing young players as a hitting and bench coach since 2005.
Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.