As far as the least successful managers, we have to understand that a bad or unsuccessful manager is not going to have a job for a long time. If you lose 100 games in a season as a manager, you are given a short leash for the next season and its very seldom that you are around when the team has success again. Connie Mack is the only manager that was able to stick around for decades of losing, and that was only because he was the owner. If somebody else was the owner, he would have been fired also.
So, I decided to rank the managers, not based on wins and losses, but on games above or below .500. Had I ranked all time wins and losses, you would find the same managers on both lists, which to me doesn't tell anything. Seven managers finished their careers 420 games or more over .500 and five managers finished 200 or more games under .500. So, based on GOF (Games Over Fivehundred), heres the top seven managers of all time.
7. Earl Weaver: Weaver managed the Orioles from 1968-1982 before returning from 1985-1986. He compiled a record of 1480 and 1060, which was 420 GOF. Inducted in the HOF in 1996, he won three AL Pennants and a World Series during his tenure with Baltimore.
6. Fred Clarke: Clarke had most of his success with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the early 1900s. After spending his first three managerial career as a player manager with the Louisville Colonels from 1897-1899, he spent the rest of his career as the player/ manager for the Pirates from 1900 to 1915. He finished with a career record of 1602 and 1181, which was 421 GOF. He won three NL Pennants and 1 World Series with the Pirates and he was inducted into the HOF in 1945.
5. Frank Selee: Selee had a very good run as a NL manager. He managed the Boston Beaneaters from 1890 until 1901 and the Chicago Orphans/ Cubs from 1902 until 1905. He won five NL Pennants with the Beaneaters and finished his with a 1284 and 862 record, 422 GOF. He was inducted into the Baseball HOF in 1999 as a manager by the veterans committee, some 90 years after he died at the age of 49.
4. Walter Alston: Alston was clearly one of the more successful managers of all time. Winner of 4 World Series and three more NL Pennants, its no surprise that his WL record is 427 GOF (2040-1613). He took over as Brooklyn Dodgers manager in 1954, following them to LA in 1958 and managing until the end of the 1976 season. He was inducted into the Baseball HOF in 1983, before passing away one year later.
3. Bobby Cox: Cox went from being a touch luck manager with the Braves in the early 1980s, to an extremely underrated manager for the Toronto Blue Jays to a legend, winning 14 straight NL East titles, something not easy to do. Despite only one World Series, he won 4 additional pennants. His WL record was 2504-2001, 503 GOF. He is getting his number retired by the Braves this year, and will eventually make the Baseball HOF.
2. Joe McCarthy: No surprise that the most successful New York Yankees manager of all time would rank where he would if we were ranking this any other way. After winning one NL Pennant in 1929 with the Cubs, he led the Yankees to 7 World Series titles and one additional pennant. His career record speaks for itself, and at 2125 and 1333, the 792 GOF blows away the rest of the competition, trailing only one other manager. He was quickly inducted into the HOF in 1957/
1. John McGraw: McGraw started as a player manager in 1899 with the NL wersion and 1901-1902 with the AL version of the Baltimore before taking over the New York Giants at the end of the 1902 season. He accumulated a ridiculous 2763-1948 record, 815 GOF. He won three WS titles and 7 additional NL Pennants and was inducted into the BB HOF in 1937.
Lets understand that ranking the least successful managers of all time is not necessarily the who's who of managers. While Clarke and Selee may have needed some explanation, three of the five least successful manager, are not really known at all. Similar to the GOF stat, I used the GUF stat (games under fivehundred) to rank the worst managers of all time. Once again, it has to be understood that only one of these managers will have had a lengthy career due to lack of success. Why would another team want to hire a manager that has had this little success, even if he is a nice guy?
5. Fred Tenney: (managed from 1905 to 1911) Tenney had a very successful playing career, getting almost 2300 career hits. He only lasted for years as a big league manager, losing 103, 102, 90 and 107 games in his 4 seasons as a manager. He was 202-402, 200 GUF.
4. Buddy Bell: (1996-2007) Surprised to see a recent manager on this list? Bell had the tough luck of managing the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals which they were the worst teams in baseball. Throw in a three year stint with the Colorado Rockies when they were rebuilding, and you have a manager who sticks around to compile a 519-724 record, 205 GUF.
3. Connie Mack (1894-1950) Mack will forever be the only manager to have as little overall success over all these years and keep his job. Of course, it was because he owned the team that he stuck around for that long. He managed nine 100 loss seasons but won four World Series and five additional pennants. His WL record of 3731-3948 was 217 GUF. He was inducted into the BB HOF in 1937 as a manager.
2. John McCloskey (1895-1908) McCloskey managed the Louisville Colonels in 1895 and the first 19 games of the 1896 season, going 35-96 and 2-17, respectively. He took over the 1906 St. Louis Cardinals and lost 98, 101 and 105 games in his three seasons there. His total record was 190-417, 227 GUF.
1. Jimmie Wilson (1934-1944) Wilson can be commended for being a player manager his five seasons as the Philadelphia Phillies manager. Unfortunately, he had some bad teams losing 93, 89, 100, 92 and 103 games before the Phillies finally let him go. He kept playing until 1940, then took over the Chicago Cubs. He struggled in three seasons and was let go after starting the 1944 season off 1-9. His career record of 493-735 was a historic worst, 242 games under .500.
Using the games over/under .500, IMO, is the most balanced way to determine which were the best and worst managers of all time. The top two managers are indisputable, but using other stats or opinions, the next four could be up for debate. Guys like Dick Williams, Tony LaRussa, Casey Stengel, Leo Durocher and Tom Lasorda didn't make the list but were all amongst the greats.