The great thing about this is similar to ranking the best and worst teams coming into the season: opinions on this list will vary to the reader. Just like the list I did last year, I have to rank the managers who have no MLB managerial experience at the bottom of the list, as nothing can be said about judging their performance. So, like last year, let the discussion begin.
1. Jim Leyland, Tigers: (LY 2) Leyland has both the track record and good team to be considered the tops in the game. He got the Tigers back to the World Series for the second time. He has a World Series Championship with Florida and got the Pirates to the NLCS three years in a row in the early nineties. There is not another current manager in MLB who would do a better job with the Tigers the way they are assembled.
2. Buck Showalter, Orioles: (LY 6) Showalter was ranked 6th on my list last season and that was before the Orioles surprised all of baseball by making the postseason last year. His track record of building winning teams was the premise of ranking him so high. The fact that he succeeded by getting that Baltimore team into the postseason shows why he is one of the top managers in the game right now.
3. Joe Maddon, Rays: (LY 1) Maddon has done a great job with continuing the winning tradition as the Rays keep getting younger. His biggest challenge lies ahead after the trade of James Shields and Wade Davis and the loss of free agent BJ Upton. Maddon has been one of the top managers and has remained so in spite of all the changes. Lets see if he can keep it up.
4. Bruce Bochy, Giants: (LY 17) Bochy changed my opinion after winning his second World Series in 3 years as Giants manager. He did it this time with a different offensive team. Two World Series wins, 3 NL Pennants and all his years as a MLB manager look a lot better after the second World Series win.
5. Davey Johnson, Nationals: (LY 19) With all the talent the Nationals had coming into last season, it was expected the team would make big steps towards being a winning team. The Nationals ran away with the NL East, and Johnson deserves a lot of the credit. My gripe last year was that I thought he had lost a sense of the changes of the game during his stint in LA. Whether we agree with the move or not, his decision not to throw a similar fit in regards to Stephen Strasburg as he did with Dwight Gooden in 1984, it shows he has been willing to make some concessions. Now that he has led the Nationals to a division titles as well, he has now done so with four different teams.
6. Mike Scioscia, Angels: (LY 3) Scioscia's stock has fallen a little bit. There
were some concerns last season that maybe his time in LA was coming to an end, but thanks to Mike Trout, the team got it together and won over 90 games. Scioscia has been known as a top managerial mind and deserves consideration among the top managers in the game. However, he has to win with the amount of talent he has on the roster.
7. Dusty Baker, Reds: (LY 10) Baker is another veteran manager and he has himself a good team in Cincinnati. He has led the team to division titles in two of the last three years. After a 2011 team that underachieved, it was a concern that perhaps Baker lost the team already. The fact that it does not seem true shows Baker is probably one to stay.
8. Ron Washington, Rangers: (LY 4) Washington would not have fallen as far if it wasn't for the Rangers bad September. The team that made it to two straight World Series fell apart as the 2012 season came to the end. Washington, however, has proven himself as a top manager.
9. Bud Black, Padres: (LY 12) Black has done a very good job for a team that overachieved in 2010. They had a very good finish last year, and Black has proven himself to stay in San Diego for the long term.
10. Charlie Manuel, Phillies: (LY 11) Manuel has the track record of the five straight NL East titles, but has to get over the team finishing 81-81 last year. He is a veteran and is best for the veteran team they have in Philadelphia.
11. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks: (LY 8) Gibson has that fiery spark that teams look for in a modern manager. It is the way he played. After getting the team to the postseason in his first full season, Gibson's team took a step back in 2012.
12. Terry Francona, Indians: It is hard to discredit Francona's success in Boston; leading them to two World Series titles in four seasons. With an under talented roster, it is interesting to see what Francona can do in Cleveland. His legacy as an all time manager depends on it.
13. Ron Gardenhire, Twins: (LY 5) Gardenhire has taken the biggest fall for a similar reason Maddon remains as high as he is. The Twins have lost a lot of talent over the past seasons, and that is what gave Gardenhire the respect he has a manager. He kept the team competitive when they lost some star power. Unfortunately, the team has lost too much talent. Maddon could be in the same spot if the Rays drop like the Twins have.
14. Joe Girardi, Yankees: (LY 15) Girardi is an average MLB manager on a good team. He is better than a lot of them, but does not have the track record of some of the best. The Yankees struggles in the last three postseasons make a good case for my point.
15. Bob Melvin, Athletics: (LY 22) Melvin deserves credit for taking the Oakland team to the postseason that had no business being there. He has improved teams in Arizona and Seattle, so it is not the first time. He is a better manager than I have given credit for.
16. Mike Mattheny, Cardinals: (LY 29, because it was his first season managing) It is a very good story of how Matheny got the Cardinals back to the postseason after losing Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa. Great job, but Matheny has to back it up to be considered one of the best in the game.
17. Ron Roenicke, Brewers: (LY 13) Roenicke took the Brewers to the postseason in 2011 but could not repeat after the loss of Prince Fielder. He is a good manager, not great. But that can change if he builds on his winning reputation in Milwaukee.
18. Robin Ventura, White Sox: (LY 30, because it was his first season managing) Ventura was one of the surprises when he got the White Sox job last season. It was an even bigger surprise that he led the White Sox to a winning record in his first season. Outside of a tough last month and a surge by the Tigers, the White Sox had a very good chance of winning the AL Central. The emergence of Chris Sale and the comebacks of Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn had a lot to do with it. Lets see how they do in season two.
19. Don Mattingly, Dodgers: (LY 16) Mattingly is in a tough spot. The Dodgers have spent a lot of money over the past couple season and have underachieved. They added Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, among others, and failed to make the playoffs. He is under some pressure to win this season or he may be out. He has yet to show he is an elite manager.
20. Fredi Gonzalez, Braves: (LY 26) Gonzalez moves up due to attrition. He did get the Braves to the postseason last year after 2011's September collapse. His offense has been upgraded, so the pressure will be on him to manage the talent he has. If not, he will face criticism.
21: John Gibbons, Blue Jays: Gibbons returns to Toronto after a three and a half year hiatus. He led the Jays to two winning seasons but did not stand out as a manager. He inherits a very good team and will certainly feel the wrath if the Jays underachieve.
22: Clint Hurdle, Pirates: (LY 21) Hurdle did not have an impressive track record in Colorado and now has had two Pittsburgh teams that have struggled mightily in the second half of the season. The Pirates are talented, but I am not sure Hurdle is the man to lead the team to the success they have been seeking since their last winning season in 1992.
23: Terry Collins, Mets: (LY 18) Collins has the tough task of managing this rebuilding Mets team. The team has decreased the amount of talent it has over the past three seasons, not fair to the veteran manager. If the Mets get off to a bad start, it may be Collins that pays the price for the team's misfortunes.
24: John Farrell, Red Sox: (LY 14) Farrell walked out on his team, a team he mismanaged to a very disappointing 2012 season. His two seasons in Toronto have been disappointing as well. He takes over a Boston team who has a different look to it. Farrell is also the only 2012 manager managing a different team in 2013.
25: Eric Wedge, Mariners: (LY 24) Wedge is in a difficult spot with a Mariners team that is expected to struggle once again. He had the same issues in Cleveland. Similar to Collins, he could pay the price for a bad start.
26: Ned Yost, Royals: (LY 25) Yost has a much improved team which will not stand for a bad start. He will be canned if the Royals do not live up to their potential. There is too much talent for this team not to break through this season. Yost has yet to enjoy enough success as a big league manager.
27: Dale Sveum, Cubs: (LY 28, because it was his first season managing) The Cubs expect to be improved this season. They did lose 101 games under Sveum last season. It is hard to judge Sveum as a manager after the one season.
28. Walt Weiss, Rockies: Weiss inherits the most talented team among the three new managers.
29. Mike Redmond, Marlins: Redmond takes over a Marlins team that has been completely stripped.
30. Bo Porter, Astros: Porter takes over an Astros team that lost 106 games and has the least amount of talent of any team in the major leagues. Good for him to get his feet wet, but the results may not be there.