The list I came up with factors all that in at the same time. The only thing I penalized managers for is no experience. It is hard to rate a manager that has not managed a game in the big leagues, so they're ranked towards the bottom of the list. Remember, this is not a popularity contest and is not a ranking of which teams are the best in baseball. Managers of teams that will win divisions and perhaps championships are not ranked in the top ten. There are managers of last place teams as well as teams that will be projected to finish last in 2012 in the top ten. Some good managers manage bad teams and vice versa. Feel free to discuss your personal rankings after comparing them with mine.
1. Joe Maddon, Rays: Maddon showed his ability when he inspired his team last year when they could have easily given up. He inspires that team to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox and he has convinced them that they can beat them. Maddon was rewarded with a three year contract extension as he is the perfect guy for this job. Has spent the last six years in Tampa and has managed the team to the only success it has ever had.
2. Jim Leyland, Tigers: Leyland's instincts may not always be agreed with, but he has instinct that few have. Leyland is known as the senior manager in the game now with the retirement of Tony LaRussa. He has been able to manage bad teams as well as good teams and while not being afraid to confront players, he is as respected as there is in the game.
3. Mike Scioscia, Angels: Scioscia implemented a system that has simplified the fundamentals of the game. He learned from the great Tommy Lasorda and it is shows as he is among the best in the game.
4. Ron Washington, Rangers: Washington is an example on how a team can simply follow the inspiration of their manager. I wouldn't have ranked Washington this high a year ago, since I gave a lot of the success of the 2010 Rangers to the fact that they were just a good team. 2011 proved that was not the case.
5. Ron Gardenhire, Twins: The Twins were awful last season, but not because of Gardenhire. Not having superstars like Joe Mauer and Justin Mourneau had a devastating impact on the Twins last season. They also lacked pitching. Gardenhire has had a history of doing more with less, so it would not be a surprise if the Twins came back into the AL Central competition in 2012. Think about all those years the Twins made the postseason under Gardenhire when they had no business being there.
6. Buck Showalter, Orioles: Buck helped build the mid to late nineties Yankees, and got fired a year before they won the World Series in 1996. He helped build the Arizona Diamondbacks, then was fired a year before they won the World Series in 2001. He contributed to making the Texas Rangers better before they let him go. He has a difficult job to do in Baltimore, especially with a team not ready to compete with the other teams in the division. But, there is no question he is one of the best in the game. He would be my choice to take over a team that planned on being a winner in a few years even though his won-lost record doesn't say so.
7. Bobby Valentine, Red Sox: As an in game manager, few can compete with his instincts. A good manager paired with a good team should lead to success in Boston. Even though he has not managed the Red Sox for one game, they have improved the team behind the bench. His no nonsense approach with no fear of getting in a players face, will lead to the turn around of the Red Sox.
8. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks: Gibson did a remarkable job with a team that was expected to be a year away. He also learned from Lasorda, as well as Sparky Anderson and Jim Leyland. It shows because by the looks of things, you'd think he's been a big league manager for years.
9. Ozzie Guillen, Marlins: Ozzie has his issues, but its mostly because of his strained relationship with the media. He didn't luck out winning the World Series in 2005 and for the exception of last year, he did his best to max out the talent of the White Sox. Unfortunately, the shelf-life for Guillen is not very long because of his explosive personality. With a new cast in Miami, he will have success. The bottom line is, he knows what he is doing and is a top ten manager in MLB.
10. Dusty Baker, Reds: Baker had a very underrated run with the San Francisco Giants and got the Cubs in the postseason before coming to the Reds. Though the Reds had a disappointing season in 2011, Baker is the guy for the job in Cincinnati.
11. Charlie Manuel, Phillies: The Phillies have been one of the best teams in the majors the past five years. Manuel has done a good job and I think he is properly ranked as the ones ranked higher could do more with less. I didn't see that when he was in Cleveland and I couldn't see him making a bad team remarkably better.
12. Bud Black, Padres: Black has managed a bad team over the past couple years that is lacking more talent each year. He almost made a playoff team out of a 2010 version that did not belong. Players respond to him and the development of the Padres is in good hands with Black.
13. Ron Roenicke, Brewers: Roenicke coached under Scioscia, similar to Black, and showed a lot of the same instincts in his first year with the Brewers. He got more with the same players than previous manager Ken Macha. It deserves to be acknowledged that he got a response from his players that few can get.
14. John Farrell, Blue Jays: Farrell is also a solid choice to manage a team thats up and coming. He would be managing in Boston right now if he had not taken the Blue Jays job last year. This team could come around a little quicker than expected, but even if it doesn't they have a very good, manager who will be in this game for a long time.
15. Joe Girardi, Yankees: Just because Girardi is ranked 15th and last among AL East teams, doesn't mean 1) he is a bad manager, 2) the Yankees cannot win the AL East or 3) the Yankees cannot win the World Series. I like the Yankees chances this year over past years. He ranks in the middle when it comes to MLB managers. It obviously doesn't mean it can't win and the Yankees cannot be favorites in the AL.
16. Don Mattingly, Dodgers: Mattingly showed a progressive knowledge of the game that got better as the season went on last year. It showed in the improvement of the team and where they ended up. I was unsure of how good of a manager he could be, but I have come around.
17. Bruce Bochy, Giants: Bochy has had longevity and got a World Series ring in 2010. Other than that, he hasn't stood out. He had a long run in San Diego because of ownership and management that simply didn't want to make changes. I never thought he was the greatest manager, but as you can see, he ranks ahead of a lot of others.
18. Terry Collins, Mets: Collins did a very good job with the Mets last year. This year could be very different. Collins can move up this list if he shows the qualities he had last year and gets the 2012 Mets to over-perform. His general-like personality wore out his welcome in Houston and Anaheim. It seems like he learned his lesson. Problem is, the Mets may not be competitive for a while which may lose him his job eventually.
19. Davey Johnson, Nationals: I liked Davey as a manager with the Mets, Reds and Orioles. It seemed like the time passed him by in LA and after 11 years off, he inherited a Nationals team that is starting to put it together. He can have success with this team, but he is not Davey Johnson from 1986.
20. Manny Acta, Indians: Acta had potential when he was a coach. Partially due to a struggling Washington organization, he struggled in his first gig. If he gets this Cleveland team to be competitive, which is clearly possible, he can move up this list also.
21. Clint Hurdle, Pirates: Similar to Bochy, Hurdle was kept around too long when he was in Colorado. If he turns the Pirates into a winner, he is a hero. If not, he is another retread manager that is just passing through.
22. Bob Melvin, Athletics: I always thought Melvin was overrated when he managed previously. The Arizona team had a foundation built before he got there and Seattle's marginal success was over-stated. He has his word cut out for him in Oakland. He has the chance to make a name for himself if he gets this team to outperform the low expectations.
23. Jim Tracy, Rockies: I thought Tracy was in over his head in LA. I liked the spark he gave the Rockies a couple of years ago, but it seems to have worn off. Tracy will probably lose his job this year if he doesn't get the Rockies to respond this year.
24. Eric Wedge, Mariners: Wedge is a good baseball man, but struggled with the Indians. It doesn't look good in Seattle, but if the organization has patience, perhaps Wedge can see this out to the good times that may be ahead.
25. Ned Yost, Royals: I didn't think Yost was the answer for the Brewers, but perhaps he can see some sunshine in Kansas City. Don't think he is a great manager, so maybe he can benefit from the farm system that is producing some of the best talent in the game.
26. Freddi Gonzalez, Braves: Gonzalez' in game managerial skills cost him his job in Florida. He was criticized for the overuse of his bullpen last year and made some questionable calls last season. If the Braves don't get over their 2011 September collapse, Gonzalez may be on the hot seat.
27. Brad Mills, Astros: Mills was highly touted as Terry Francona's bench coach in Boston. He has not done a good job with the Astros. You can make a case that the team has gotten worse, talent wise, since he took over as manager. It may be true, but there are times he looks overmatched.
28. Dale Sveum, Cubs: Sveum comes with some minor league experience coaching and managing. Theo Epstein believes in him so he may be the right guy for the job. Perhaps he moves up the list, once we see him as a big league manager.
29. Mike Matheny, Cardinals: A former catcher with no coaching experience prior to taking the Cardinals job. He has worked in the front office, but remember AJ Hinch? He inherits the defending World Series Champions without their biggest superstar. I just cannot judge him at this point.
30. Robin Ventura, White Sox: Ventura was an assistant coach for a high school team last year. Now he is a big league manager? Is he the worst big league manager? Maybe not, but it is hard to expect a lot from a good guy who just may not be ready for this position.