Six managers left. Here they are, again with their winning percentage with the Phils, their Pythagorean winning percentage with the Phils and whether or not they ever took the Phillies to the post-season:


Manager

W-L

Years

WPCT

P-WPCT

Post-season?

Bill Shettsline

367-303

1898-1902

.548

.527

NO

Pat Moran

323-257

1915-1918

.557

.548

YES

Paul Owens

161-158

1972, 1983-84

.505

.495

YES

Danny Ozark

594-510

1973-1979

.538

(.540)

YES

Dallas Green

169-130

1979-1981

.565

.535

YES

Charlie Manuel

354-294

2005-2008

.546

(.548)

YES

And here’s what I see as the key elements for and against for each as the best manager in Phils’ history:

Manager For Against
Bill Shettsline (1898-1902)
  • Fourth-best winning percentage of the
    original group of 25 managers (third-best of remaining six)
  • Second-best difference between winning percentage and Pythagorean
    winning percentage of the six remaining managers (and third-best among
    the original group of 25)
  • Won more games than any of the remaining six except for Ozark
  • Never took the Phillies to the post-season

 

Pat Moran (1915-1918)
  • Third-best winning percentage among
    the original group of 25 managers (second-best for the remaining six)
  • Took the Phillies to their first World
    Series in 1915 (they lost to the Red Sox four games to one)
  • The difference between his winning
    percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage is just fourth-best of the
    remaining six managers
Paul Owens (1972, ’83-’84)
  • Took the Phillies to the World Series
    in 1983 (where they lost to the Baltimore Orioles, four games to one)
  • Has the worst winning percentage of
    the six managers that are left — he won just three more games than he
    lost at the helm for the Phils
  • Managed just 319 games for the Phils,
    second-fewest among the original group of 25
Danny Ozark (1973-1979)
  • Took the Phillies to the post-season
    three times, the most of any manager
  • Won 594 games for the Phils,
    third-most in team history and more than 200 more than anyone else in
    the remaining group of six
  • Has a Pythagorean winning percentage
    that is worse than his actual winning percentage
  • Had disappointing results in the
    post-season, winning the NL East in ’76, ’77 and ’78 but going 2-9 in
    three National League Championship series
Dallas Green (1979-1980)
  • Best winning percentage among the
    original group of 25 managers
  • Best difference between winning
    percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage among the original group
    of 25 managers
  • Won the World Series in 1980 (the
    Phils beat the Royals four games to two)
  • Took the Phillies to the post-season
    twice, matched or bettered only by Manuel and Ozark
  • Managed just 299 games for the Phils,
    just two full seasons (’80 and ’81) and part of 1979.  The 1981
    season was a strike-shortened 107 games
Charlie Manuel (2005-2008)
  • Took the Phillies to the post-season
    twice
  • Won the World Series in 2008 (beat the
    Tampa Bay Rays four games to one)
  • Fourth-best winning percentage among
    the six managers that remain
  • Has a Pythagorean winning percentage
    that is worse than his actual winning percentage

Five guys of this group I don’t think are the best manager in Phillies history:

  • Bill Shettsline. I think the inability to take the Phils to the post-season kills Shettsline’s chances. He finished in the top three in the NL in 1899, 1901 and 1902 and won more games than the Pythagorean won-loss record suggests he should have in each of those years, but the closest he got to the post-season was 1901 when his Phils finished 7 1/2 games behind the Pirates. Other than that, though, his case is very strong. Fourth-best winning percentage of the original group of 25 and the third-best difference between the winning percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage. I don’t think you can make a case that he’s better than Green, though, who 1) had a better winning percentage, 2) had a better difference between his winning percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage and 3) won the World Series, without weighing heavily the fact that Shettsline managed and won so many more games. I don’t think that’s enough. This article would also have you believe that he once had an 11-year-old child thrown in the clink for refusing to return a ball that had left the field of play.
  • Pat Moran. Another fantastic winning percentage, third-best of the original group of 25 and second-best among the 25 that remain. Didn’t do quite as well against his Pythagorean winning percentage as some of the other guys, though. He took the Phils to their first World Series in 1915. The team was very good that year and dominated the National League, leading the league in both average runs scored per game and average runs allowed per game. The AL, which had three outstanding teams in 1915, Boston, Detroit and Chicago, sent the Red Sox to the ’15 World Series. Despite their dominance in their own league, the Phils were dispatched quickly in five games. The Phils took the opener with a 3-1 win, but dropped four one-run games in a row after that. In three of the four games the Phillies allowed a run in the ninth inning that gave Boston the win. The American League may just have been better than the NL in 1915, but there is a sense that the Phils, who also underperformed their Pythagorean wins by two victories, underperformed a bit after dominating the NL. Moran would go on to manage the 1919 Cincinnati Reds to a World Series victory, beating the Chicago White Sox five games to three in a series marred by the Black Sox Scandal.
  • Paul Owens. I don’t think there’s much of a case to be made for Owens against the rest of this group despite taking the Phils to the World Series in 1983. Owens did make it to the series with what was arguably the second-best team in the National League. The Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves by three games to win the NL West and the chance to face the Phils in the NLCS (which the Phils won three games to one), but I would argue that the Braves and their monster offense that year were the better team overall. Owens lost the World Series to a Baltimore team that was simply better than the Phils. Overall he won just three more games than he lost while managing the Phillies.
  • Danny Ozark. Ozark had a ton of talent and won a ton of games, third-most in Phillies history. The Phillies have had two teams that won 100 games in a season and Ozark managed both of them. He won the NL East in 1976, ’77 and ’78. His ’76 Phillies may well be the best team in the history of the franchise. No other manager has taken the team to the post-season three times. Two big factors against Ozark as I see it, though: 1) His Pythagorean winning percentage is worse than his actual winning percentage and 2) despite all the talent, he never took the Phillies to the World Series and went 2-9 in three National League Championship Series. On the post-season, you have to give him a pass for 1978. The Dodgers, who beat the Phils three games to one in the NLCS, were just better than the Phils that year. They won more games, scored more runs and allowed fewer. The ’76 Phillies may indeed be the best team in the history of the franchise, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Reds, who rolled them in a three-game sweep, were at least as good if not a tick better. In the same way, the ’77 Dodgers, who beat the Phils three games to one, may also have been a touch better than the ’77 Phils. So Ozark was certainly the victim of some bad luck to run into monster Reds and Dodgers teams in ’76 and ’77. Regardless of the circumstances, though, 2-9 is hard to overlook and the combination of that plus the comparison to other managers who have outperformed their Pythagorean win expectation makes it tough to see him as the best in history.
  • Charlie Manuel. Manuel won the 2008 World Series despite having, almost inarguably, the second-best team in the NL. The Cubs won more games, scored more runs and allowed fewer runs. The Phils didn’t have to beat the Cubs to get to the World Series, the Dodgers did it for them, but they went to the World Series, and won it, with the second-best team in their league nonetheless. The Rays team that they beat wasn’t particularly a powerhouse. Of the five teams in the AL East, for example, three of them scored more runs than Tampa Bay. The Rays did have fantastic pitching, but, despite the fact that they beat the Red Sox in the ALCS, Boston was arguably the better team overall. I’m not going to argue that the Blue Jays were better than the Rays, but thanks to their amazing pitching their run differential in 2008 was better than Tampa Bay’s. None of that is Charlie Manuel’s fault, of course, he could only beat the team they put in front of him. And he did. He does have a Pythagorean win percentage that’s worse than his actual win percentage, which makes it hard to put him ahead of a guy who also won the World Series and does not. His winning percentage is also the fourth-lowest of the six managers in this group. Manuel has managed 648 games for the Phils and gone 354-294. To post the same winning percentage as Green, .565, he would have had to have gone 366-282. Green outperformed his Pythagorean win percentage by .030, the best rate of the original group of 25. To have outperformed his Pythagorean win percentage of .548 by the same margin, Manuel would have to post a .578 win percentage — over 648 games that would be a 375-273 record. Manuel is almost surely never going to pass Green in difference between his Pythagorean winning percentage and winning percentage and probably never in winning percentage either. Another post-season appearance, though, seems possible and would give him three, which would tie him with Ozark for the most in team history and strengthen his case considerably given that he’s already won the World Series.

Just one guy left and, as you may have guessed, I think he’s the best Phillies manager of all time.

  • Dallas Green. Best winning percentage of the group of 25. Best difference between the winning percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage. Won the World Series in 1980. I think there can be two big components of an argument against Green, but neither of them is enough for me. The first is that he simply didn’t manage enough games, just 299, and was the only manager of the team for just two seasons — 1980 and the strike-shortened 1981 in which the Phils played just 107 games. The second is that Manuel won the World Series with the second-best team in the NL while Green won it with the best. Green also caught a break in 1980 by getting to play the Astros rather than the Dodgers in the NLCS despite the fact that the Dodgers were probably a little better. LA trailed the Astros by three games with three games to play at the end of the ’80 season. The Dodgers swept Houston in the three-game set to force a one-game playoff, which Houston won 7-1. Houston got ahead of the Phils two games to one in the NLCS, but the Phils won a pair of extra-innings games in four and five to take the best-of-five set three games to two. Green also got a break in getting to play the Royals for the World Series in a year where the AL East featured two teams, the Yankees and the Orioles, that both won 100 games and were both probably better than KC. But the Yanks edged out Baltimore to win the AL East and Kansas City swept New York to go to the World Series, where the Phils topped the Royals four games to two.