Nationals' Top 5 managers: Camerato's take

December 2nd, 2021

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we’ve asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top managers in the history of their franchise, based on their time guiding that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only!

Here is Jessica Camerato’s ranking of the Top 5 managers in Nationals/Expos franchise history.

1) Dave Martinez, Nationals (2018-Present)
Key fact: Led the Nationals to their first World Series title in 2019

With an unwavering mentality of going “1-0” every day, Martinez turned an underdog 2019 Nationals team into a group of champions. That year, the Nats began their season, 19-31. The postseason, let alone a title, seemed unlikely at that point in late May. But there was a lot of baseball left to be played, Martinez believed, and plenty for his group to keep fighting for.

“When we first started this phrase -- as everybody knows -- we were struggling,” Martinez said. “We were going through some rough times throughout the season. But I always felt like, ‘Hey, you know what? Things will turn around.’ I heard the phrase, got it and I said, ‘Hey, this is us. Every day, we wake up and we’ve got to stay in that fight.’ The boys took that and ran with it.”

Washington finished its turnaround season 93-69, good for second place in the National League East and the top NL Wild Card spot. From there, they eliminated the Brewers, the Dodgers in a five-game NL Division Series, the Cardinals in an NL Championship Series sweep and the Astros in a World Series Game 7 win on the road.

The Nationals hired Martinez in October of 2017 for his first managerial role, which came with years of Major League playing and coaching experience. In his first two seasons, he went 175-149 with a .540 winning percentage.

2) Felipe Alou, Expos (1992-2001)
Key fact: Earned the most wins as a manager in franchise history

Alou played for the Expos in 1973 as part of his 17-year Major League career. He joined their staff in '76 and worked his way up to the big league manager job from there. Alou became the first Dominican-born Major League manager when the Expos hired him in ‘92.

In his 10 seasons at the helm for Montreal, Alou recorded a franchise-best 691 wins against 717 losses. His win total is 171 more than second-ranked Buck Rodgers, and his 1,409 games managed is 282 more than Gene Mauch's second-place total.

The Expos reached the 90-win mark (94-68) in Alou’s first full season, and he won the NL Manager of the Year Award in 1994 when they went 74-40.

3) Davey Johnson, Nationals (2011-13)
Key fact: Was at the helm for the Nats’ most wins in a single season

The 2012 Nationals stand out for their franchise-best 98-64 regular-season record, and Johnson helped lead them to that feat in his second season of his three-year tenure.

Johnson became manager in 2011, when Washington went 80-81. From there, the team improved by 18 wins and made its first postseason appearance since its relocation to Washington, D.C., with a young Stephen Strasburg and rookie Bryce Harper. That season, he won his second Manager of the Year Award.

Johnson managed the Nats to a 244-183 record. His .550 winning percentage is third-highest in franchise history.

4) Dusty Baker, Nationals (2016-17)
Key fact: Led Washington to back-to-back NL East titles

No Nationals or Expos team had reached the postseason two years in a row until Baker helped Washington get there in 2016 and '17. He completed his 24th season as a Major League manager in 2021 with the Astros. Baker spent two of those seasons with the Nationals, with a 192-132 record, and he holds the best winning percentage (.593) among all franchise managers.

Baker is a three-time Manager of the Year Award winner, and he led the 2002 Giants to the NL pennant. He currently ranks 12th all-time with 1,987 in wins.

5) Buck Rodgers, Expos (1985-91)
Key fact: Holds the second-most managerial wins in franchise history

The 13-year Major League manager was at the helm of the Expos for the middle seven years of his career. During that time, he went 520-499 and remains second in wins only to Alou. Rodgers earned NL Manager of the Year Award honors in 1987, his most-winning season (91-71).

Honorable mentions

Frank Robinson (2002-06) managed both the Expos and Nationals. His 385 wins are fourth most among the franchise's managers.

Dick Williams holds the sixth-best winning percentage among franchise managers (.523). Over five seasons with the Expos (1977-81), Montreal went 380-347.