In the coming days, I will be ranking all the managers in Tampa Bay Rays history. In the Rays (and Devil Rays) 20 years of existence, Tampa Bay has had only five managers. So, let’s get to the rankings…
In an era when managers often ride yearly carousels in and out of major league baseball towns, the stability shown in the Tampa Bay Rays organization is nothing short of refreshing. However, let there be no mistake, there have been many bleak campaigns since 1998. Hard years that made many a Rays’ fan hair as white as Joe Maddon’s buzz cut.
While managers should never be held fully responsible for a ballclub’s success or failure, they are incredibly crucial parts in the process. Therefore, a ranking of Rays managers from worst to first can lead us orderly back into a 20-year journey from the cellar to the catwalks of the Trop.
Besides, a trip back out to the diamond on a baseball-less January day can only be a good thing, right? So, let’s get started on some stat-based, loyal-hearted opinion.
#5: Hal McRae (2001-2002, Devil Rays)
Games Managed: 309
Win-Loss Percentage: .366
Best Finish: 5th
Worst Finish: 5th
Hired only 15 games into the 2001 season, Hal McRae became the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ second manager. Having finished in last place in all three years and suffering a 4-10 start to the new season under Larry Rothschild, Tampa Bay hoped that a mid-April change would kickstart a new beginning for the American League East’s newest member.
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McRae seemed to be a smart choice. He was, after all, no stranger to managing a club to success. Three of the four years he helmed Kansas City, the Royals had a winning record. Despite the infamous 1993 tirade that resulted in McRae destroying his own office and cementing his place in baseball lore, over all, he finished his tenure in Kansas City with a .508 win-loss percentage.
Well, hope quickly landed in Tampa Bay with an ugly thud.
In just under two years of management, McRae could only lead the Devil Rays to a .366 winning percentage. After finishing out the 2001 season with a 58-90 record, he was brought back to lead the team to a horrific 106-loss campaign in 2002.
Yes, it was as gut-wrenching as it sounds. Hal McRae would not return in 2003 and his place at #5 on the Tampa Bay Managers List was born.
Tomorrow, meet #4 on the Tampa Bay Managerial High Five list!