Which MLB Playoff Team Has the Best Manager? – BaseballSaturday, September 19, 2015 7:00
The manager drives the team and keeps it together. Who is the best?
Which MLB Playoff Team Has the Best Manager?
A lot goes into building a World Series baseball team, and one essential element is the man who never takes the field. A baseball team’s manager needs to provide motivation and stability at the same time. He needs to set an effective lineup and manage it well during the game. He needs to be the man the team will rally around.
We already know which managers we’re likely to see in this year’s postseason. The 2015 MLB playoffs are almost set. The National League playoffs, barring some kind of a miracle from the Giants or Nationals, will feature the Cardinals, Mets, Dodgers, Pirates, and Cubs. The American League playoff teams will be the Royals, Blue Jays, Astros, Yankees, and either the Rangers or the Twins.
So of these likely playoff teams, which ones have the best managers? Here are our picks for the top three.
3. Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates
Clint Hurdle is on the verge of leading the Pirates to the postseason for the third straight year, and he’s doing it in one of the toughest divisions that baseball has seen in its history. Despite relentless opposition from the frustratingly good Cardinals, Hurdle’s Pirates teams never seem to lose their concentration. Hurdle’s teams have seen more turnover than the rival Cardinals, and they’re fighting on two fronts now thanks to the surging Cubs, but Hurdle is a master motivator. His team has performed strongly down the stretch. Throw in the fact that he’s a solid in-game manager (he’s added three wins to his team, according to the Pythagorean theorem of baseball – see the next section for details), and you have an all-around great coach.
2. Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers
If you didn’t know who Jeff Banister was when the Rangers hired him to be the team’s manager this year, that’s okay – pretty much nobody did. This is Banister’s first year as a big-league manager, and he only had three years of big-league coaching experience (with the Pirates) before he got his new gig. But what Banister has done since then is remarkable.
The Rangers are not a great team. Using the Pythagorean theorem of baseball, an advanced statistic that calculates the number of “expected” wins for a team based on their runs scored, the Rangers should have expected a winning percentage of .480. That’s the 20th-best Pythagorean in the 30-team league. But the games aren’t played on paper, and the real-life Rangers are a likely playoff team at .531. Generally, stat heads like to attribute differences in Pythagorean record and real record to in-game managerial decisions. By that measure, Banister has stolen seven wins for his team – the best mark of any playoff-bound manager.
1. Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs
When Joe Maddon opted out of his contract with the Rays last year, it took almost no time at all for the Chicago Cubs to pick him up. The Cubs booted old manager Rick Renteria (who, while unspectacular, hadn’t done much to deserve the firing) and fired up their fan base by hiring Maddon. Why they’d want Maddon is obvious: he’s a great motivator, a strong strategist, and proved with the Rays that he is adept at handling young talent. Maddon is prone to some strange in-game moves from time to time, but he’s generally smart about his strategy and has a great way with players. It shows: his team has won five more games than their pythagorean record would indicate, which is good for the second-best such mark among likely playoff managers.
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