Who are the best New York Yankees best managers of all-time?
In addition to the usual obstacles managers face in guiding any MLB team to victory, those who manage the New York Yankees must also deal with temperamental superstars and the highly critical and often unforgiving sports media in New York City. The best Yankee skippers have been able to handle both the club’s erratic superstars and the frequent second-guessing of the media.
This is the second 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 most outstanding Yankee skippers of all time. Since Aaron Boone is the current manager and doesn’t have a complete record to judge yet, he is excluded from the analysis.
As all baseball fans, and especially 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.
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.
Most previous evaluations only consider won-loss records during the regular season and the postseason. In determining who are the greatest Yankee managers of all time, I assess not only the regular season and postseason records of all 34 prior managers but also how well they handled their players game in and game out and year in and year out.
In other words, to what extent were players willing to fight, live, and die for their skippers on the battlefield? Exceptional leaders will be able to instill in their players a “warrior, us against the world” mentality consistently over time. They also should be able to successfully develop young talent with potential.
Based on the regular season and postseason records of past managers of the Bronx Bombers, along with my assessment of their leadership during their tenure, in my view, the following five managers were the best skippers the Yanks ever had.