Aaron Boone was hired in December 2017 as manager of the New York Yankees, the 33rd manager in franchise history. While some prior Yankee managers were fantastic and their memories will live on forever, others struggled as Yankee skippers.
This is the first of two essays where I critically evaluate the performance of previous Yankee managers dating back to the establishment of the New York Highlanders in 1903. In this piece, I focus on the five worst Yankee skippers.
As all baseball fans, and especially New York Yankees fans, are fully aware, managing a baseball club is an extremely challenging job. The manager is responsible for deciding who plays and who pitches, when someone gets up to bat, who plays where and the location of players on the field, what the starting rotation looks like, and who is the closer.
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Like army generals on the battlefield, the strategies, tactics, and decisions of managers ultimately determine the success or failure of the team. Players are normally expected to perform well on the field.
Data analytics has now become a staple in the decision-making process of modern-day skippers. However, the human element has not been eliminated. Far from it.
Dealing with the psychology and social behavior of individual players is more challenging today than ever before for baseball managers, given the complexities of the sport, in particular, and the difficulties and temptations of life today, more generally.
In determining who is the worst Yankees’ managers of all time, I assess not only the regular season and postseason records of all 32 prior managers but also how well they handled their players game in and game out and year in and year out. Most previous evaluations only judge won-loss records during both the regular season and the postseason.
While judging team won-loss records is essential and cut and dry, I decided to include the extent to which previous Yankee managers made the right strategic decisions at crucial times in games and how they handled their players.
In other words, to what extent were players willing to fight, live, and die for their skippers on the battlefield? Among other problems, the least successful club managers were unable to instill in their players a “warrior, us against the world” mentality consistently over time.
Based on the regular season and postseason of past managers of the Bronx Bombers, along with my assessment of their leadership during their tenure, these five managers stunk up the place and are by far the club’s most horrible managers in Yankee history. The list runs from bad to worst.