Best Phillies manager of all-time (over several posts). Here goes.
You don’t have to go very far down this path before you bump into a big problem: best, in this case, means different things to different people. There is no answer to this particular question, only a bunch of different opinions.
For purposes of this post I am looking only at Phillies managers who have managed at least 299 games for the Phils since 1884 (in 1890 the team changed its name from the Quakers to the Phillies). It would be 300 games, except that would exclude Dallas Green, who managed 299 games for the Phils.
Some things are easy. Gene Mauch, who managed the Phillies between 1960 and 1968, has managed the most games for the Phils and has the most wins (646).
In terms of sheer magnitude of games managed and games won, Phillies history features a big three that includes Mauch, Harry Wright and Danny Ozark. All three of the group managed over 1,000 games and won about 600 for the Phils. Mauch was 646-684 (.486). Wright managed from 1884 to 1893 and went 636-566 (.529). Ozark managed from 1973-79 and went 594-510 (.538).
After that trio there’s a big drop — Jim Fregosi (’91-’96) is next in terms of games won and he won only 431, 163 less than Ozark, who had the fewest wins of the group of Mauch, Wright and Ozark.
Anyhow, if you thinks it’s all about the number of wins it makes your job easy. It’s Mauch and you’re done. I’m going to keep going, though.
Twenty-five managers have been at the helms for at least 299 games since 1884. I am going to eliminate ten of them immediately. They are:
Hugh Duffy (1904-06, 206-251, .451)
Art Fletcher (1923-26, 231-378, .379)
Burt Shotton (1928-33, 370-549, .403)
Jimmie Wilson (1934-38, 280-477, .370)
Doc Prothro (1939-41, 138-320, .301)
Frank Lucchesi (1970-72, 166-233, .416)
John Felske (1985-87, 190-194, .495)
Nick Leyva (1989-91, 148-189, .439)
Terry Francona (1997-2000, 285-363, .440)
Larry Bowa (2001-04, 337-308, .522)
I don’t think any of those ten are the best manager in Phillies history.
Of that group of ten, seven, Duffy, Fletcher, Shotton, Wilson, Prothro, Felske and Francona, meet all of these criteria: 1) They had a winning percentage while managing the Phils of under .500 2) Their Pythagorean win percentage was higher than their actual winning percentage (ie, they won fewer games than the formula expects) and 3) they never took the Phillies to the post-season.
Incidentally, Charlie Manuel and Francona have now managed the same number of games for the Phils. Manuel has gone 354-294 (.546). Like Francona, Manuel’s Pythagorean win percentage is worse than his actual win percentage. It is also worse by almost exactly the same amount (Manuel has a .546 win percentage and a .548 Pythagorean win percentage while Francona’s are .440 and .441). Francona never won the World Series with the Phils, however.
Bowa, Leyva and Lucchesi also were eliminated.
Leyva has a .439 winning percentage and Pythagorean win percentage that was the same as his actual winning percentage.
Lucchesi’s .416 winning percentage was miserable, although it was slightly better than his Pythagorean win percentage (.404).
Bowa’s .522 winning percentage was solid, but not as good as his Pythagorean win percentage of .524. Among the 25 managers in the group, the difference between his actual win percentage and Pythagorean win percentage is tenth worst. Also if I thought Larry Bowa was the best manager in the history of the Phillies I would have trouble taking myself seriously.
That leaves 15 for the next post.