That's what a recent ranking by the Wall Street Journal suggests at least. Using categories such as Close Games, Wins Above Expectation, and Player Performance Maddon finished 14th ahead of Jim Leyland, Joe Torre, Terry Francona, Eric Wedge, and Clint Hurdle.
The problem is the system is flawed and for the same reason that ranking general managers or even scouting teams is, uncontrollable variables. Wins Above Expectation, for instance, uses the Pythag Wins total, based on runs scored and allowed, compared to the actual win level. Player Performances are based on, you guessed it, the performances of players under different managers - so Joe Maddon gains huge points for Carlos Pena.
Does anyone believe that Ron Gardenhire (the "top" manager based on the metrics) can truly get more out of players than Maddon, or that somehow his God awful lineups consisting of Nick Punto somehow compelled the Twins to more victories than they essentially "deserved"?
I appreciate the effort, but these rankings are too flawed for me to place any credibility in them. The best example I can give to prove my belief would be Francona's rank, his (loaded) team won the World Series but because Julio Lugo performance was unlucky and poor under Francona somehow that's an indication on Francona's managerial skills? What about Joe Torre's win expectations, because his teams, which featured the highest payroll in the league - presumably meaning the most talent - overachieved (in theory) by 19 games over the past two seasons Torre is somehow credited for that?
Again, nice effort, but the right metric still hasn't been applied.