Ranking the Current American League MLB Managers Based on Their Pro Baseball Careers

As it currently stands, 21 of the MLB’s current 30 Managers spent time on the major league level, with the other nine playing professionally, but never getting a call to the Show. The coaches who never played in the majors were Brandon Hyde, John Schneider, Pedro Grifol, Matt Quatraro, Brian Snitker, Buck Showalter, Rob Thomson, Derek Shelton, and Oliver Marmol.

This article will take a look at the 11 managers from the American League who played in the major leagues at some point. From All-Star appearances to World Series rings to historically bad statistics, these managers have covered just about everything in their playing careers, so why not rank them?

These rankings will be evaluated based on statistics, achievements, and career longevity, all categories which will determine where each coach is placed.

You can find the NL manager rankings here!

Ranking the Current AL Managers Based on Their Playing Careers

11. Kevin Cash – Tampa Bay Rays

Aside from his defensive ability behind the plate, Kevin Cash had a less-than-stellar career in the major leagues, having a career batting average of .183, a -3.1 WAR, and a .526 OPS.

Only appearing in 246 games over his eight-year career, Cash never made a real impact bouncing around five different teams, the Blue Jays, the Devil Rays, the Red Sox, the Yankees, and the Astros. Only appearing in the postseason once as a player in 2008 with the Red Sox, Cash has faired much better as a manager, winning AL Manager of the Year in 2020 and 2021 and winning the American League pennant in 2020.

10. A.J. Hinch – Detroit Tigers

During his career, A.J. Hinch totaled 209 hits, 32 home runs, and a .636 OPS. Hinch only appeared in more than 100 games in a season once in his career that spanned seven years where he spent most of his time with the Athletics as a catcher and also played for the Royals, Phillies, and Tigers.

Hinch ranks towards the bottom of the list as his career stats are measly, posting a .219 batting average, a .280 OBP, and only a .356 slugging percentage. As a manager, Hinch has had a successful, yet controversial career, winning the 2017 World Series with the Astros but being suspended in 2020 for his involvement with the team’s cheating scandal, where he was eventually fired by team owner, Jim Crane.

Now the manager of the Tigers since 2021, he has yet to put up a winning season.

9. Bruce Bochy – Texas Rangers

Another catcher on this list, Bruce Bochy had a nine-year MLB career, the majority of it with the Padres but also spending time on the Mets and Astros.

Never a regular member of the starting lineup and only appearing in 68 games in the season he was most used, Bochy was never a staple for any of the three organizations he played for. Appearing in 358 games over his career, Bochy totaled 192 hits, while posting a .685 OPS, a .388 slugging percentage, and a .239 batting average. As a member of the Padres in 1984, he went to the World Series, where the team ultimately lost in five games to the Tigers.

However, as a manager he managed to win three World Series over five years with the Giants, even being the NL Manager earlier in his career with the Padres in 1996. Now, he is looking to win his fourth title with the Texas Rangers a team he became the manager of in 2023.

8. Terry Francona – Cleveland Guardians

Before winning two World Series as the Red Sox manager and having the distinction of being a three-time Manager of the Year recipient, Terry Francona had a fairly long career as a player in the Major Leagues.

He played for the Expos, Cubs, Reds, Indians, and Brewers over a 10-year career where he was primarily a first baseman and outfielder. Francona had a promising young career, going so far as to hit above .300 in two different seasons but injuries cut those seasons short and made it difficult for him to remain consistent.

The now Guardians manager had a career .274 batting average but lacked power only amassing 16 home runs during his time in the majors, while also not getting on base very much outside of contact hits, having only a .300 OBP and having a .652 OPS.

What could be regarded as a disappointing career, that could’ve led to much more barring injury, Francona found a new strength in coaching where he has made a significant impact.

7. Scott Servais – Seattle Mariners

Scott Servais follows a common theme seen on this list to this point: being a player who has been in the Major Leagues for a decent period, but never a consistent part of any team’s lineup, only playing in over 100 games three times in his 11-year career.

Following another common theme, Servais was a catcher who totaled 611 hits, 63 home runs, and a .245 batting average, with a career OPS of .681. Going from team to team Servais, spent time with four different franchises the Astros, the Cubs, the Giants, and the Rockies.

Since retiring from playing, Servais has served as the manager of the Mariners since 2016, where in 2022 he helped lead the team to their first playoff series win in 21 years.

6. Rocco Baldelli – Minnesota Twins

While his numbers are strong, Rocco Baldelli‘s stint in the majors being shorter than most of the other managers holds him back from earning a higher spot on this list.

The then centerfielder started his career off strong playing over 100 games in his first two years, even coming in third for AL Rookie of the Year voting. However,  Baldelli underwent both Tommy John surgery and reconstructive knee surgery early on during his seven-year career, leading to his shortened career. When he did play, he made a decent impact, having a career of .278 batting average, .766 OPS, and a 10.2 WAR, in his stints with both the Devil Rays and the Red Sox.

The manager of the Twins since 2019 and winning AL Manager of the Year his first season with the team, Baldelli has had a fairly strong start to his managerial career.

5. Alex Cora – Boston Red Sox

With stints on the Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox, Mets, Rangers, and Nationals during his 14-year Major League career Alex Cora, while never incredible, was a solid utility player for competitive teams.

Known more for his defensive capabilities being in the top 10 of the American League for defensive WAR in 2005 and even being in the top 100 for all-time fielding percentage as a second baseman, Cora never shined at the plate, only having a career .243 batting average and 828 hits.

While with the Red Sox, he won the 2007 World Series, where he appeared in two games during the series. Usually a replacement player, Cora had a career 7.0 WAR and a .648 OPS, with 828 hits and 35 home runs.

Alex Cora went on to win another World Series with the Red Sox, this time in 2018, but due to his involvement as a coach in the Astros cheating scandal was suspended for the entirety of the 2020 season, but was later rehired in 2021 by the Red Sox.

4. Aaron Boone – New York Yankees

The first manager on this list to make an All-Star appearance, Aaron Boone had a lifetime batting average of .263, 1017 hits, and a .751 OPS through 12 years with six teams, primarily the Reds.

The lone All-Star appearance he made was with the Reds in 2003. No stranger to heroics, during his time in New York, Boone is notable for his Game Seven walk-off homerun against the Red Sox in the 11th inning to send the Yankees to the World Series. When not dealing with injuries Boone consistently played, appearing in over 100 games in seven of his seasons, playing in 162 during the 2002 season.

Boone has returned to the Yankees organization, serving as their manager since 2018.

3. Mark Kotsay – Oakland Athletics

An outfielder and first baseman for the Padres, Marlins, Athletics, Braves, Red Sox, White Sox, and Brewers, Mark Kotsay had a 17-year career where he totaled 1784 hits, a 21.3 WAR, and a .276 batting average.

Kotsay was selected ninth overall in the 1996 draft and debuted the next year for the Marlins. In both 1998 and 1999, Kotsay lead the entirety of the National League in assists as an outfielder and was in the top five in 2000, 2003, and 2004. While he was a good outfielder, he was also a fairly good hitter, at his best hitting .314 in 2004 while playing for the Athletics, coming in 14th in MVP voting that year as well.

The now-retired major leaguer took up the reigns of the Athletics in 2022, a team that has both struggled as a team and had trouble with a dysfunctional organization.

2. Phil Nevin – Los Angeles Angels

Taken before Derek Jeter with the first overall pick by the Astros in the 1992 amateur draft, Phil Nevin had a strong MLB career that went on for 12 years, the majority of that time being with the Padres.

While never being as accomplished as Jeter, Nevin still managed to succeed at the big league level, making the All-Star team in 2001 and placing top 30 in MVP voting twice. During his time playing, Nevin had 1,131 hits, 208 of those being home runs, with a .270 batting average and a .814 OPS. Though he may be seen in a negative light due to the Astros passing over Jeter and choosing him instead, Nevin had a very nice career with a 15.9 WAR.

As the manager of the Angels since Joe Maddon‘s firing in the 2022 season, Nevin has just begun his major league managerial career.

1. Dusty Baker – Houston Astros

A position is widely undisputed, Dusty Baker takes the top spot on this list, as he covers every ground when it comes to what aspects of the manager’s careers were being looked at to decide placement.

Dusty Baker played for 19 seasons with four teams, the Braves, Dodgers, Giants, and Athletics, where he amassed 1981 hits, 1013 runs batted in, and 242 home runs, with a .278 batting average. He also had incredible accomplishments during his time as a major leaguer, being a two All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, winning a Gold Glove once, winning an NLCS MVP trophy in 1977 with the Dodgers, and later winning the 1981 World Series with the team.

Having a 37.0 career WAR, Baker finished in the top ten of MVP voting twice and finished in the top ten three times in the National League for batting average.

Dusty Baker has been a Manager for five different teams over a 26-year career, winning Manager of the Year three times, and won his first World Series as a coach with the Astros in 2022.

Main Image: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

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