It never fails. It doesn’t matter what team a you are a fan of. There will always be those great players that you swear up and down will make great managers in the future. And it’s almost always based on their personality, popularity and playing career. Recently there have been Texas Rangers fans who believe that Michael Young and Adrian Beltre would both make great managers. I could see it, but does a great playing career always translate into a great managerial career? You might be surprised, especially when it comes to the Rangers.
I looked at all 23 managers who have donned a Texas uniform and then their playing careers. Next I ranked them by WAR using Baseball Reference. For this list I only ranked the top ten. Three managers (Frank Lucchesi, Kevin Kennedy and Buck Showalter) never made it to the majors. Ron Washington, by far the most successful manager in franchise history, just missed the cut at #11 with a 1.3 career WAR. Current skipper, Chris Woodward, is twelfth with a WAR of 1.1.
So here are the top ten. If you don’t know which Rangers’ manager had the best playing career then you obviously haven’t followed the team that long. Some others may surprise you though, as five had double-digit WAR numbers.
10. Tim Bogar (1.9 WAR)
He only managed 22 games when the team was finishing up a miserable 67-95 2014 season. He took over in September when Ron Washington was relieved of his duties. Bogar led them to a 14-8 record and seemed like a good lock to get the job full time. He ended up losing out to Jeff Banister (0.1 WAR in just one game)
Bogar was a career .228 hitter through nine seasons.
9. Bobby Valentine (2.0 WAR)
Valentine had a 581-605 record as the Texas manager from 1985-1992. His closest finish was 2nd place in 1986. His best years came as manager of the New York Mets where he led them to one World Series. He hit .260 in his ten year career though he never played a full season.
8. (TIE) Don Zimmer and Whitey Herzog (2.8 WAR)
Whitey Herzog went 47-91 in 1973 with Texas. It was his managerial debut and his only season with the Rangers. He found success in the 80’s winning three NL pennants and a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Zimmer went 95-106 in two seasons with Texas. His best years were as Joe Torre’s bench coach with the New York Yankees in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. He was a career .235 hitter and was one of few to make it to both All-Star games in 1961. Yes, they played two that year.
7. Billy Martin (2.9 WAR)
In three seasons with Texas he went 137-141. He was most famous for being fired and re-hired by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Martin did win a World Series with New York. He was also a popular player with the Yankees. He slashed .257/.300/.369 in his career. He appeared in one All-Star game.
6. Johnny Oates (3.3 WAR)
Johnny led Texas to their first three division titles (1996, ’98 and ’99) and compiled a 506-476 record in seven seasons with the Rangers. He played eleven big league seasons with a career batting average of .250.
5. Connie Ryan (17.5 WAR)
Apparently managing wasn’t Ryan’s cup of tea. In 1975 he went 9-18 with the Atlanta Braves and in 1977 he posted a 2-4 record with Texas. Both were .333 winning percentages so at least he was constistent. His best playing season was 1944 when he hit .295/.364/.416 with the Boston Braves. He was also an NL All-Star that year.
4. Doug Rader (24.4 WAR)
Rader was a five-time Gold Glove winning third baseman. He went 155-200 with Texas from 1983-85.
3. Eddie Stanky (41.1 WAR)
Yes he only managed one game with Texas, winning that game before quitting and returning home, but I had to include him on this list to keep it fair and balanced. Stanky was a three-time All Star who led the AL in walks three times and OBP twice.
2. Toby Harrah (51.4 WAR)
Harrah was the interim manager in 1992, taking over for the fired Bobby Valentine. Toby would finish the season with a 32-44 record. He was more popular with fans, though, as a player. He was a four-time All-Star and finished his 17-year career with a slash line of .264/.365/.395.
1.Ted Williams (121.9 WAR)
No surprise here. Hall-of-Famer. MVP twice. All Star 19 times. Two Triple Crowns. Last player to hit .400 in a season. The accolades go on and on.
Manager wise? Meh. 54-100 with Texas in their 1972 debut season. It would be his only year here and last ever as a manager. Between the Washington Senators, whom he managed three seasons prior, and the Rangers he went 273-364.
So there it is. Hopefully this opened some eyes. Maybe educated others. As long as it was fun.
Until next time, I’ll continue writing from my Mom’s basement!
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