Nover’s View: Best Baseball Manager Ever

On June 13, 2017, in MLB, by Stephen

Who is the best baseball manager of all-time? If the criteria is short-term success, there’s only one candidate: Billy Martin.

Martin managed five teams for 11 full seasons. He inherited bad teams each time and turned every one of them into winners finishing first five times and second four times.

He started with the 1969 Twins. The previous year Minnesota finished seventh at 79-83. During Martin’s one season in Minnesota, the Twins improved to 97-65 and won the division.

Martin was then hired by Detroit in 1971. His Tigers won 12 more games than the 1970 Tigers and then captured a division title in 1972 improving by 18 games.

After being fired by the Tigers in 1973, Martin went to the Rangers that year for the last few weeks of a 57-105 season. The following season under Martin, the Rangers went 84-76 and finished second for their highest finish in franchise history.

After being let go in Texas, Martin made his first stop wtih the Yankees taking over in August to finish the Yankees’ 1975 season. Martin then led the Yankees to their first pennant in a dozen years in 1976. The Yankees captured the World Series the following year and also won it in 1978 although Martin was fired mid-season in 1978.

Martin resurfaced with Oakland in 1980 leading the A’s to 29 more victories than they had the previous season when they had the worst record in baseball losing 108 games. Oakland then won the division under Martin in 1981.

The Yankees hired Martin back three times before he died in a car accident on Christmas Day of 1989. Martin’s last full season as manager with the Yankees was 1983. The Yankees improved by 12 games under Martin from 1982.

Each of Martin’s teams showed a huge plus in production, according to the Birnbaum Database (plus 64 runs in Minnesota, plus 199 in Detroit, plus 91 in Texas, plus 142 in Oakland and plus 219 during his Yankee managing days.)

I think it’s wrong Martin isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Yes, his style was to fix things short-term. His drinking, brawling and personality weren’t condusive to long-term success. So he never could sustain anything. He always was getting fired.

But if you needed a quick turnaround, there was no better manager ever than Billy Martin.


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