Ranking the Red Sox managers

The Globe’s Nick Cafardo ranks every full-time Red Sox manager, using the opinions of team historians and factoring in championships, record, improvement over previous regime, team performance after he left, and what the manager was asked to do during his time.

These rankings were first created in 2008, then updated following managerial changes (*indicates partial season):

1. Terry Francona

2004-11: 1,296 games

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Terry Francona was warmly welcomed back to Fenway Park by fans less than a year after leaving the team at the end of the 2011 season.

Finished: 2d, t-1st, 3d, 1st, 2d, 2d, 3d, 3d

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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

Finished: 1st,*4th

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

Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff
Jimy Williams took the Red Sox to the 1999 ALCS.

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 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

Finished: 2d

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.

18. Fred Lake

1908-09: 192 games

Finished: *5th, 3d

He revived the Sox, bringing along the exciting outfield of Tris Speaker, Duffy Lewis, and Harry Hooper and infusing life into a franchise that had lost 195 games in 1906 and ’07.

19. John McNamara

1985-88: 571 games

Finished: 5th, 1st, 5th, *1st

McNamara managed an outstanding 1986 season — with a superstar in Clemens — before the World Series collapse. Made a series of strange moves, including not subbing defensively for Bill Buckner in Game 6.

20. Grady Little

Ron Schwane/AP
Grady Little’s tenure will forever be marked by the Red Sox’ loss in the 2003 ALCS.

2002-03: 324 games

Finished: 2d, 2d

Two good seasons were spoiled by the Pedro Martinez meltdown in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Yankees. While players loved him, his managing-on-instinct style failed him at the most crucial moment.

21. Johnny Pesky

1963-64; 1980: 326 games

Finished: 7th, *8th,*4th

The emergence of Dick Radatz as the most feared closer in the American League and the introduction of Tony Conigliaro to the big leagues were Pesky’s major contributions.

22. Patsy Donovan

1910-11: 311 games

Finished: 4th, 5th

A career of managerial mediocrity extended to his Sox stint. Smoky Joe Wood became a big star under Donovan’s watch, and his tenure paved the way for the opening of Fenway Park in 1912.

23. Bucky Harris

1934: 153 games

Finished: 4th

It was one year in Harris’s 29-year Hall of Fame managerial career, but there was nothing distinctive about it, except that he was Tom Yawkey’s first hire.

24. Pinky Higgins

1955-59, 1960-62: 1,119 games

Finished: 4th, 4th, 3d, 3d, *5th, *7th, 6th, 8th

Hard to understand how he could have managed so long given the racism that came through in his managing and personnel decisions. Higgins certainly knew the game, but the rest of it was unforgivable.

25. Lou Boudreau

1952-54: 463 games

Finished: 6th, 4th, 4th

He managed during a transitional period when he phased out some older players and replaced them with young stars such as Jimmy Piersall and Harry Agganis. The Boudreau era was uneventful.

26. Billy Jurges

1959-60: 122 games

Finished: *5th, *7th

The most consequential thing that happened during Jurges’s tenure is the team bringing up its first African-American player, Pumpsie Green. Jurges left the team in May of 1960, Ted Williams’s final season.

27. Bobby Valentine

2012: 162 games

Charles Krupa/AP
Bobby Valentine, right, met with his predecessor, Francona, when the then-ESPN analyst dropped by Red Sox training camp with fellow analyst Orel Hershiser.

Finished: 5th

Tough year for Valentine, with numerous injuries and “set-in-their-ways” veterans whom Valentine was unable to reach. It was a year marred by clashes with a non-supportive front office that doomed him from the start. By August, Valentine basically had a Triple A roster. Sox management did nothing to help him. One of the strangest dynamics in Red Sox history: They hired him to change the culture in the clubhouse, and when he tried, he received no backing from his superiors.

28. Butch Hobson

1992-94: 439 games

Finished: 7th, 5th, 4th

Joe Morgan should never have been fired, but the Sox wanted to make room for what they thought was this up-and-comer. Hobson never quite had the players to make it work, and by the time he learned on the job, he was gone.

29. Billy Herman

1964-66: 310 games

Finished: *8th, 9th, *9th

A bleak time for the Sox, who were building toward the Impossible Dream. Conigliaro was becoming a top slugger. The Sox started weeding out older players, but Herman didn’t have much of a chance with the assembled roster.

30. Deacon McGuire

1907-08: 227 games

Finished: 7th, *5th

In 1908, McGuire became the first to manage the “Red Sox,” as the name was changed from the Americans. Speaker began asserting himself as a great defender in center and speedy leadoff man.

31. Hugh Duffy

1921-22: 308 games

Finished: 5th, 8th

A Hall of Fame player, Duffy was in the wrong place at the wrong time, falling victim to owner Harry Frazee’s tempestuous post-Ruth days with a watered-down roster.

32. Frank Chance

1923: 154 games

Finished: 8th

The last manager to win a championship with the Cubs (1908), Chance managed the final Frazee season.

33. Shano Collins

1931-32: 208 games

Finished: 6th, *8th

Collins managed a dreadful roster of over-the-hill and overweight players. Earl Webb hit a record 67 doubles to highlight the 1931 season, and in ’32, Collins started 11-44 before quitting.

34. Lee Fohl

1924-26: 463 games

Finished: 7th, 8th, 8th

Fohl lasted three seasons despite a horrible roster. He is the only manager in Sox history with two 100-loss seasons. Fohl helped put out a fire at Fenway in 1926, but had no chance to spark anything on the field.

35. Marty McManus

1932-33: 248 games

Finished: *8th, 7th

McManus took over for Collins after 55 games in ’32, and in his only full season, 1933, he won 63 games. McManus was fired by Yawkey before the ’34 season.

36. Heinie Wagner

1930: 154 games

Finished: 8th

In his only season as a major league manager, Wagner oversaw one of the worst teams in Sox history.

37. Joe Kerrigan

2001: 43 games

Finished: *2d

When Kerrigan took over for Jimy Williams on Aug. 16, 2001, the Sox were two games behind Oakland for the wild card. When it was over, the Sox were 19½ games out of the wild card.