The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Top Ten: Playing Careers- MLB Managers

By: Nick Ertmer

1. Don Mattingly

  • Current: Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Former: First Basemen and Outfielder, New York Yankees

Don Mattingly

Donnie Baseball was outstanding his whole career which he spent with the New York Yankees.  He had 2153 career hits with a .307 career batting average, 222 homeruns, 1099 runs batted in and a career .830 OPS (On base percentage + slugging percentage).  In 1985, he led the American League in doubles (48) and RBIs (145) while hitting 35 homeruns, scoring 107 runs, collecting 211 hits while hitting .324.  He won the American League’s Most Valuable Player, a silver slugger award, and a gold glove award at first base that season.  He had eight other gold gloves in his career, with his outstanding defense and two more silver sluggers with a total of six All Star games.  Another astonishing statistic from his great career was that he struck out only 444 times, which is on average only 40 strikeouts per 162 games.


2. Kirk Gibson

  • Current: Manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Former: Outfielder, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates

“In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened” announces Vin Scully, the famous Dodger’s broadcast commentator, after Kirk Gibson’s famous pinch hit homerun as a member of the Dodgers in game one of the 1988 World Series.  Easily, Gibson is most famous for that moment and he had a very good career to complement it.  He was a career .268 hitter with 255 homeruns, 870 RBI and 284 stolen bases, all while collecting 1553 hits and a .815 OPS.  He was the National League MVP in 1988 after hitting .290 with 25 homeruns, 76 RBI, 106 runs and 31 stolen bases.  In the postseason, he was just as good with a career .282 batting average with 7 homeruns in 78 at bats.  His play helped both the Detroit Tigers (1984) and the Dodgers (1988) to World Series Championships.

3. Dusty Baker

  • Current: Manager of the Cincinnati Reds
  • Former: Outfielder, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics
Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker made a big splash to start his career in 1972 when he hit .321 with 17 homeruns and 76 RBI in his first full season.   That season as the Braves everyday outfielder, he had an .888 OPS and it garnered him MVP votes.  He received MVP votes in 1980 (4th in MVP voting) and 1981 (7th).  In 19 seasons he collected 1981 hits, 242 HR, 1013 RBI, a career .278 BA, 137 SB and two All Star Game appearances, two Silver Slugger awards and a Gold Glove (1981).  He also had 164 postseason at bats and hit .282 with 5 homeruns and earned the NLCS MVP award in 1977 after hitting .467 in the series against the Phillies.  There was no doubting his talent as a player and his managing career looks just as promising.

4. Ozzie Guillen

  • Current: Manager of the Chicago White Sox
  • Former: Shortstop, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Ozzie does not get a lot of positive press these days and he receives criticism for his outspokenness as a manager.  However, he did have a great playing career and there is no doubt that he knows the game of baseball.  The 1985 rookie of the year played 13 seasons for the Chicago White Sox, two seasons with the Braves/Orioles, and finished his career with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  Over his career, he had 1764, hits, stole 169 bases, and batted .264 at the plate.  Like Mattingly, Guillen did not swing and miss very often; he struck out on average just 42 times per 162 games.  He went to three All Star games and won a gold glove award in 1990.

5. Mike Scioscia

  • Current: Manager of the Los Angeles Angels
  • Former: Catcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
Mike Scioscia

The first of three outstanding catchers on this list is the talented former backstop and two time manager of the year, Mike Scioscia.  He had a career batting average of .259, with a.344 OBP that included 1131 H, and 68 HR.  These totals helped him to all star game appearances in 1989 and 1990.  His best season was in 1985 when he hit .296 with 7 homeruns, 53 RBI, a .407 OBP, and an .826 OPS.  Scioscia was an even more impressive contact hitter than Guillen.  Scioscia averages 35 strikeouts per 162 games for his career and in 1985 he walked 77 times and struck out just 21 times.  These totals earned him National League MVP votes for that season.

6. Joe Girardi

  • Current: Manager of the New York Yankees
  • Former: Catcher, Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals

It seems like yesterday that Joe Girardi was playing on the north side of Chicago for the Cubs.  Over 15 seasons he collected 1100 hits, batted .267, hit 36 HR and went to the All Star game in 2000.  In 2000, he hit .278 with 6 HR and 40 RBI with a .714 OPS.  He also threw out 38% of attempted base stealers and had just 5 errors.  He won two World Series Championships as a player with the New York Yankees (1998 and 1999) and one as a manager in 2009.  On a stranger note, Girardi also became the first Manager of the Year to have ever been fired at the end of the award winning season (Florida Marlins, 2006).

7. Bud Black

  • Current: Manager of the San Diego Padres
  • Former: Starting Pitcher, Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants
Bud Black

Bud Black is the first pitcher on this list after pitching 15 seasons and making 296 starts.   In 398 games he went 121-116 with a 3.84 Earned Run Average and 1039 strikeouts in 2053.1 innings pitched.  Black’s best season came very early in his career when in 1984, he went 17-12 with a 3.12 ERA and 140 K in 257 innings pitched.   Two years prior he had the American League’s lowest WHIP (Walks and Hits per inning pitched) at 1.13.  He also is a member of the exclusive club that has won a World Series as both a player (1985 with the Royals) and a manager (last season with the Giants).

8. Clint Hurdle

  • Current: Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Former: Catcher, Outfielder and First Basemen, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals

Clint Hurdle played in the infield, outfield and behind the plate during his 10 seasons in the major leagues.  He only started two full seasons for the Kansas City Royals and played sparingly afterwards but put together good numbers nonetheless.  For his career, he hit .259 with 32 HR and 193 RBI.  His best season at the plate came in 1980 when he hit .294 with 10 HR and 60 RBI, with a .807 OPS.

9. John Farrell

  • Current: Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays
  • Former: Pitcher, Cleveland Indians, California Angels, Detroit Tigers

John Farrell had two great seasons that paced his career in the big leagues as a starting pitcher.  In 1988 and 1989 he had a combined 25 wins and a 3.94 ERA over 418.1 innings pitched.  For his career, Farrell went 36-46 with a 4.56 ERA and 356 K.

10. Terry Francona

  • Current: Manager of the Boston Red Sox
  • Former: First Basemen and Outfielder, Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers
Terry Francona

Terry Francona developed in the Montreal Expos farm system before he made his Major League Debut in August of 1981.  He hit .274 in his rookie season and followed that up with hitting .321 the following season.  In 1984, he hit a career high .346 in 214 at bats with 5 walks and just 12 strikeouts.  For his career, Francona batted .274, with 16 HR, 143 RBI, and a total of 474 career hits.  He finished three seasons batting over .300 but never had the at bats to compete for a batting title (Career high: 281 AB in 1985).  In the field he was also very good with just 22 career errors in 10 seasons.





2 responses to “Top Ten: Playing Careers- MLB Managers

  1. Absolutely. This list does get a little weak towards the bottom with Francona and Farrell. However, it was fun and interesting to see how good these players were in their playing days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *