A’s Top 5 managers: Gallegos’ take

June 15th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players and managers by position in the history of their franchise, based on each player’s career while with that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only. If you don’t agree with the order, vote in the Twitter poll for your favorite at this position.

Here is MLB.com’s ranking of the top five managers in A’s history, as selected by Martín Gallegos:

1. Connie Mack, 1901-50
Key fact: Mack’s 50-year tenure as A’s manager is the longest by a coach or manager with the same team in North American professional sports history.

Having managed the Philadelphia incarnation of the A’s for 50 seasons, also becoming part-owner of the club, the longevity alone is impressive. But that is only part of the equation that leads to Mack landing the top spot on this list. He is MLB’s all-time winningest manager, with 3,731 victories, a record that may never be approached. It is nearly 1,000 more wins than the next manager on the list, John McGraw (2,763). Though the win percentage might not look pretty at .486 (3,731-3,948), Mack did engineer two separate A’s dynasties, the first that won three World Series titles in four years from 1910-13 and a second that won back-to-back World Series titles from ‘29-30.

• A's All-Time Around the Horn Team: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | LF | CF | RF | DH | RHP | LHP | Relievers

In all, Mack oversaw nine A’s clubs that captured the American League pennant and won five World Series titles, a mark that stands as second-most by a manager in baseball history. Mack was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937, and he is honored by the A’s inside the Oakland Coliseum with a special private club area named the Connie Mack Club. Among the Hall of Famers who played for Mack are Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins and Mickey Cochrane.

2. Tony La Russa, 1986-95
Key fact: La Russa has the second-most managerial wins in A’s history (798).

Fired by the White Sox in his eighth season at the helm in Chicago, La Russa took over with the A’s in the middle of the 1986 season and kick-started a Hall of Fame career that saw him bring immense success to Oakland. He went 798-673 in a 10-year run as A’s skipper that featured three straight AL pennants from '88-90, including an '89 World Series sweep of the Giants.

3. Bob Melvin, 2011-present
Key fact: Melvin is one of eight managers in Major League history to win a Manager of the Year Award three times.

Melvin is creeping up on La Russa for most wins in Oakland history with a record of 731-664. He has led the A’s to five postseason appearances in his nine seasons as manager, and he earned the AL Manager of the Year Award in 2012 and '18. While past A’s managers have had star-studded rosters to work with, Melvin has led his clubs to success often having to deal with severe roster turnover on a yearly basis. He reached the AL Wild Card Game with the '18 A’s, who began the year with the lowest payroll.

4. Dick Williams, 1971-73
Key fact: Williams has the highest win percentage in A’s history (.603).

Williams managed the A’s for only three seasons, but he oversaw the start of perhaps the greatest dynasty in Oakland history, leading the A’s to back-to-back World Series titles from 1972-73. The A’s won a third straight championship in '74, but that came under Alvin Dark after Williams shockingly resigned at the conclusion of the '73 season because of growing discord with owner Charlie Finley.

Managing stars like Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers and Bert Campaneris in his three-year stint, Williams compiled a record of 288-190.

5. Art Howe, 1996-2002
Key fact: Howe is one of four managers in A’s history to reach 600 wins with the club.

Howe was given the monumental task of replacing La Russa in 1996. It was a bit of a rocky start as the A’s posted losing records in his first three seasons, but things turned around as Oakland reached the postseason three straight years from 2000-02, eclipsing the 100-win mark in '01 and '02. Though the A’s of the early 2000s featured stars like Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, they never made it past the AL Division Series in Howe’s tenure, leading to his release following the '02 campaign. Howe compiled a record of 600-533.

Honorable mentions
Ken Macha took over for Howe and kept the ship afloat, leading the A’s to two postseason appearances in four seasons. His .568 win percentage (368-280) is third-highest in club history.

• Slight losing record (215-218) aside, Billy Martin is often credited with revitalizing baseball in Oakland during his three-year stint as A’s manager from 1980-82. He reached the AL Championship Series with a fun '81 A’s squad that included a young Rickey Henderson.