I’ve ranked every full-time Red Sox manager, using the opinion of Red Sox historians and factoring in championships won, record, improvement over previous regime, team performance after he left, and what the manager was asked to do during his reign.
These rankings were first created in 2008, then updated following managerial changes.
(* indicates partial season)
1. Terry Francona
2004-11: 1,296 games
Finished: 2d, t-1st, 3d, 1st, 2d, 2d, 3d, 3d
Two championships tie him with Bill Carrigan for most by any Red Sox manager. While benefiting from excellent talent and resources, he also was the perfect fit in the most pressure-packed situation in Red Sox history.
2. Dick Williams
1967-69: 477 games
Finished: 1st, 4th, *3d
Williams’s Impossible Dream Red Sox of 1967 and his prediction of “we’ll win more than we lose” started the era of modern baseball in Boston.
3. Bill Carrigan
1913-16; 1927-29: 1,003 games
Finished: *4th, 2d, 1st, 1st, 8th, 8th, 8th
With back-to-back World Series titles (when he nurtured The Babe), Carrigan might have been ranked higher but for his horrible comeback in the late ’20s when he managed some of the worst teams in Sox history.
4. Jimmy Collins
1901-06: 842 games
Finished: 2d, 3d, 1st, 1st, 4th, *8th
He won the first World Series vs. the Pirates with superb strategy in the clinching Game 8. He probably would have won back-to-back had the 1904 World Series been played.
5. Jake Stahl
1912-13: 235 games
Stahl didn’t manage very long, but the 1912 Sox won a team-record 105 games, and the talented squad was not to be denied, thanks to the “$30,000 muff” by Giants outfielder Fred Snodgrass in the World Series.
6. Jimy Williams
1997-2001: 766 games
Finished: 4th, 2d, 2d, 2d, *2d
He was a good teaching manager who developed young players. A good communicator, he fell short as a spokesman and/or face of the organization.
7. Joe Cronin
1935-47: 2,007 games
Finished: 4th, 6th, 5th, 2d, 2d, 4th, 2d, 2d, 7th, 4th, 7th, 1st, 3d
Managed the most games in Red Sox history, but lost his only World Series, in 1946, when the Sox won 104 regular-season games and should have won it all.
8. Ed Barrow
1918-20: 418 games
Finished: 1st, 6th, 5th
The last manager to win a championship before Francona came along. The 1918 World Series championship came in a war-shortened season where Barrow rode Babe Ruth’s coattails to a title.
9. Joe Morgan
1988-91: 563 games
Finished: *1st, 3d, 1st, t-2d
Morgan was the right guy at the right time, engineering the “Morgan Magic” run at a time when the organization truly needed a lift after the negativity of the John McNamara years.
10. Kevin Kennedy
1995-96: 306 games
Finished: 1st, 3d
A well-prepared game manager, he led a Sox team that had limited talent to a division title in the strike-shortened ’95 season, and nearly overcame a 3-15 start in 1996 with a late-season push that fell short.
11. Don Zimmer
1976-80: 715 games
Finished: *3d, t-2d, 2d, 3d, *4th
The collapse in 1978, including the playoff-game loss to the Yankees, will always stick out like a sore thumb in Zimmer’s Sox biography. But he is one of three Sox managers who won 90 games in three seasons.
12. Eddie Kasko
1970-73: 640 games
Finished: 3d, 3d, 2d, 2d
Never flashy or exciting, but Kasko was solid. If Luis Aparicio hadn’t stumbled around third base the last weekend of ’72, he would have had a more prominent place in Sox history.
13. Darrell Johnson
1974-76: 408 games
Finished 3d, 1st, *3d
Emphasized youngsters Dwight Evans, Cecil Cooper, and the Gold Dust Twins — Jim Rice and Fred Lynn — and they excelled in 1975. He lost to the Big Red Machine in the greatest World Series ever.
14. Joe McCarthy
1948-50: 369 games
Finished: 2d, 2d, 3d
McCarthy had frustrating ends to two seasons, which diminish his accomplishments. In ’48, it was his decision to pitch Denny Galehouse in a one-game playoff with the Indians, and in ’49, the Sox lost the pennant on the final weekend.
15. Ralph Houk
1981-84: 594 games
Finished: 5th, 3d, 6th, 4th
The former Yankees skipper was brought in to develop young Sox players and did just that, bringing along Bruce Hurst, Oil Can Boyd, John Tudor, and Bob Ojeda, and introducing Roger Clemens to the major leagues.
16. Steve O’Neill
1950-51: 249 games
Finished: *3d, 3d
He inherited Joe McCarthy’s talented lineup partway through 1950 and couldn’t quite lead the Sox to the pennant. This hands-off manager had a good record, but fell short, like so many others.
17. Jack Barry
1917: 157 games
Had one very good year as player-manager after winning as a player in 1915 and ’16. The longtime Holy Cross baseball coach went off to war in 1918 and had to relinquish his managing duties.Continued...