Good morning one and all, and welcome to the annual Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers ranking. Yes, the feature that started as filler on a slow news day when I was super hungover eight years ago and which has since morphed into first-paragraph-of-my-obituary stuff and which I bring to the masses on this final Free Thursday of the year.
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This feature began back in 2013 when, at the Winter Meetings, Brad Ausmus walked by my wife Allison and me in the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel down at Disney World, causing Allison to crane her neck and look at him like he was a big juicy steak. Before then it hadn’t really occurred to me that managers could be handsome, but since then I’ve made it my life’s work (well, my slow day in December’s work) to rank them. We don’t get to choose our legacies. Our legacies choose us.
The usual disclaimers:
No baseball manager is ugly. All of them have inner beauty, I’m sure. More to the point, reporters have taken to asking managers near the bottom of these rankings how it feels to be called “ugly.” Please don’t do that, members of the working press. I am not ranking ugliness. I am ranking handsomeness.
This is a subjective list, obviously. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I will privately judge you for thinking unattractive managers are handsome, but that reflects poorly on me, not you. Let no one besides you dictate your feelings.
Finally — and this disclaimer was originally written when a lot of jackwagons commented on my work at NBC, so it’s probably not as necessary now, but I’ll offer it all the same — this is merely a list of aesthetic handsomeness, not one of love or longing. I hate that even in 2021 I feel as though I have to say it, but I will say that I am a totally straight man making these judgments. If you find something wrong or amiss with that, I feel sorry for you. There is far too much beauty among people in the world for us to fail to acknowledge 50% of it merely because we’re worried about appearing less than traditionally masculine or feminine. Free your mind, your ass will follow.
Gabe Kapler, Giants
Kapler was named Baseball Most Handsome Manager in December 2017, soon after he was hired to manage the Phillies. That win was based primarily on (a) the novelty of the first seriously ripped and chiseled-jaw manager in living memory; and (b) the power of his back catalog of cheesecake beach photos which have made the rounds for years. Since then we’ve had the opportunity to judge Kapler in his managerial element.
At first that worked to his detriment in a number of ways. Because while Kapler had always oozed cool, California charm in the past, he never seemed really comfortable or confident in Philly and that colors a person’s impression of a fella. Not so much that it ever knocked him down the list very far — the man is still, objectively, a specimen — but the manager in the top spot often possesses a certain intangible something, and if Kapler ever truly had it, he had lost it.
But only temporarily. What a difference a year makes, eh?
I’m not gonna say winning 107 games with the Giants was all Kapler’s doing — there was a convergence of several improbable great seasons from unlikely players and no small amount of luck at work there — but he did no harm and he never lost his cool. He also just fits perfectly in San Francisco. San Francisco just wears well on him and vice-versa. For this year at least it makes him Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager.
Mike Matheny, Royals
The Most Handsome Manager of 2015 is holding at number two for a second straight year. Honestly, if Kapler had a single bad moment in 2021 — an ugly press conference or something — it might’ve put Matheny over the top. Or, perhaps, if Matheny didn’t so frequently appear to have a mullet working, which is not a good look, even if young men are trying to bring it back. He’s got the market cornered on hunky, but handsome is harder to capture.
Derek Shelton, Pirates
Look, I get it. Shelton is not as conventionally handsome as many of the other managers on this list. But that’s evidence of a very narrow idea of what handsomeness truly is. I mean, if you cannot appreciate a Silver Fox like Shelton, do you even have a pulse?
Also boosting him tremendously is the fact that, in response to his good friend and former boss Rocco Baldelli winning the top spot for past two years running, Shelton exhibited a certain magnanimity, praising Baldelli by saying “That’s a cool honor. That’s something you should hang on your mantle” and making multiple gestures to let the world know just how handsome his pal Baldelli was.
Just as only the true messiah denies his divinity, so too do only the truly handsome deny their own handsomeness. Well, let no man deny you any longer, Derek. Let the world know all about your gray beard and the 50 years of rugged masculinity which defines that deceptively handsome package.
Rocco Baldelli, Twins
Baldelli has been the top guy for the past two years but he takes a step back as the strain of an unexpectedly poor season in Minnesota wore on him. It will no doubt anger him greatly that his good friend Shelton is more handsome than he is now too, but I’m sure he’ll find a way to deal with it.
Craig Counsell, Brewers
He’s still, in my book, more “cute” than “handsome” but to the extent anyone has ever said nice things about my looks they say the same thing, so why should I judge him harshly for that?
Dusty Baker, Astros
There is nothing sexier than cool and there is no manager cooler than Dusty Baker. He’ll be near the top of this list until he retires. If he ever does.
Oliver Marmol, Cardinals
The Bruce Bochy (multiple time 30th Most Handsome Manager) to Gabe Kapler (multiple time Most Handsome Manager) upgrade the Giants made in 2020 is probably unbeatable. But going from Mike Shildt to this is pretty goddamn impressive.
Kevin Cash, Rays
When Netflix makes a Sean Payton/Saints-style movie about Kevin Cash and the Rays, I hope they don’t do him dirty like they did Payton and have someone like Kevin Damn James play him. Respect the man’s handsomeness and cast someone proper, will ya?
Joe Girardi, Phillies
One of the most polarizing managers in baseball, at least as far as handsomeness goes. Each year I have someone saying he’s the hunkiest hunk of burning love in baseball and someone else saying his momma had to tie a pork chop around his neck to get the dog to play with him. I have no idea what anyone with extreme opinions on Girardi is looking at. He’s a bit too rough around the edges for me to call truly handsome, but he’s in great shape, has some nice salt-and-pepper going on, and he wears a proper damn tucked-in uniform most days and doesn’t just show up in the dugout in those sloppy smocks like most of these schlubs do. Effort counts, dammit, and Joe Girardi has never not given his all when it comes to handsomeness.
David Bell, Reds
That’s what I’m getting from David Bell as I look at his portfolio. I could go either way, frankly.
A.J. Hinch, Tigers
I gave him and Alex Cora big demotions last year on the basis that their ethical failures created some sort of literary-style degradation in their physical appearance, but upon reflection that doesn’t really hold up too well. If anything, making the villain of a story look ugly is some lazy, weak sauce, character development-wise. Hinch is a pretty handsome fella, really. Let’s leave our character judgments separate from our aesthetic ones, shall we?
Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks
He often wears high socks. Very few managers do that. That counts. Now if he’ll do the Bobby Cox thing and wear cleats instead of regular athletic shoes we’d really have something.
David Ross, Cubs
Yeah, he has the same beard that Shelton has, but Shelton looks like he’s done more to earn the gray.
Charlie Montoyo, Blue Jays
A lot of these judgments are cheap shots based on me cherry picking some random photo I find of these guys. But if I’m gonna let a bad random photo cause someone to get knocked down a few pegs I should also allow a random photo to elevate a guy a few pegs beyond where he’d normally appear.
To that end, I give you what appears to be Charlie Montoyo starring in one of those prescription drug commercials you see in the United States:
That image 100% appears as a voiceover says “don’t use Blixonvira if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.” With Blixonvira, of course, being a pill which treats, like, fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva or foreign accent syndrome or something and costs $12,500 a month. Unless you have health insurance in which case it’s $32. Stay in Canada, Charlie. Then drug ads and those kinds of drug prices will never be a problem for you.
Dave Roberts, Dodgers
This is Roberts with his daughter Emmerson:
This is Roberts with his pitching coach Mark Prior:
He should hang out with his daughter more. It suits him better.
Bud Black, Rockies
For several years I’ve praised Black for pulling off the éminence grise look quite nicely. I feel like reading glasses halfway down the nose is pushing it a bit, but if he’ll give me some of the Werther’s butterscotches I know he has in the cardigan that I am certain he has back in the dugout, I’ll go easy on him for it.
Alex Cora, Red Sox
Kevin Cash is probably the most egregious of the “never wear an actual uniform as opposed to manager smocks and hoodies and stuff” guys, but Cora is a close second. We may as well just let them dispense with the uniforms entirely and dress like high school gym teachers.
Joe Maddon, Angels
Maddon has gone through a LOT of looks over the years. He’s done the “your mom’s new boyfriend wants you to know he’s cool” thing. He’s done the “guy at the show who won’t stop talking about how he saw The Replacements at The Longhorn in the summer of 1980” thing. He’s done the “hippest guy in the active seniors community” thing. Last year in this feature I noted that he was attempting to do the “19th Century Whig Presidential Nominee” thing. He’s not everyone’s favorite guy, I get that, but he’s never not put in the effort. That effort is akin to the effort Jered Leto puts in to his roles which is itself rather polarizing, but you have to appreciate the fact that he never mails it in.
I do wonder, though, if the effort is waning a bit of late, because I’m not sure that “The Ron Gardenhire thing” is actually a thing:
Bob Melvin, Padres
I’m guessing going from Oakland to San Diego will improve his countenance a considerable amount. All we have now are the introductory presser photos, but once he’s in spring training and at Petco Park managing a team that actually has a payroll and isn’t trying to bully its way into a new stadium or grift its way out of town the guy is gonna have an extra spring in his step which will translate into massively improved handsomeness metrics.
Aaron Boone, Yankees
I was toying with putting him last. Not because I think he’s only the 30th Most Handsome Manager in baseball. Not by a long shot. He’s not bad looking! No, I was just so taken with how, last season, he’d follow up the most dispiriting losses with comments so completely lacking in urgency that it even baffled and frustrated those of us who understand that no single game’s outcome matters. That, in turn, made me wonder how he’d react if any reporter had the guts to ask him about it.
Reporter: “Aaron, can you talk about being the least-handsome manager in baseball?”
Boone: “Well, I liked the effort out there. We’ll get ‘em tomorrow.”
Don Mattingly, Marlins
Is that . . . a sideburn?
It’s close. Could be a game changer if he grows it out.
Scott Servais, Mariners
Sometimes I look at him and he gives me a “Barry Corbin in ‘War Games’” vibe. I honestly don’t know if that is an improvement or not. I need to test this, though. After a game next year he needs to say something like “We've had men shifting to the right side against lefties since before any of you guys were watching "Howdy Doody"! Now I myself sleep pretty well knowing those boys are over there.”
Mark Kotsay, Athletics
This was the photo that accompanied the team’s official announcement of Kotsay being hired:
I’ve seen guys stepping off a boat after winning pro-am bass fishing tournaments looking better than this. I have one word for you Mark: sunscreen. The Oakleys may look bitchin’ but they’re not gonna keep your nose from growing the most interesting cancers and your cheeks from looking like well-tooled vintage saddle bags. You’re only 46 but you’re starting to look like Ötzi the Iceman, for Christ’s sake. Take care of yourself.
Chris Woodward, Rangers
As I’ve mentioned before, I drink a FRIGHTENING amount of coffee. As such, I will freely admit that my teeth aren’t as white as they could be. So a couple of months ago I got some custom whitening trays from my dentist and I’ve done one cycle of whitening. The results so far show a modest but by no means dramatic improvement. I’m OK with this because I really never wanna be one of those guys with almost unnaturally white teeth. There’s something really off about that. Especially for someone who doesn’t have matinee idol looks. Which, needless to say, I do not.
Brandon Hyde, Orioles
I can’t imagine that managing the Orioles is easy. If there’s any doubt about that, just look at year-by-year photos of Hyde, the most recent of which are rather dire. It’s like those downward spiral photo arrays they show you in D.A.R.E. programs. “Managing in Baltimore: Not Even Once!”
Terry Francona, Guardians
Tito has missed a lot of time with health problems over the past couple of seasons. Word is that he’s doing better now, thankfully, and is poised to manage in 2022. If he doesn’t, though, and if DeMarlo Hale takes over like he did last season, I reserve the right to revise this upward. Hale is a pretty decent-lookin’ fella.
Dave Martinez, Nationals
I scrolled through like ten pages of Getty Images results for him and could not find a single photo of him doing anything but scowling. I’m never, ever gonna be a guy who does the “you should smile more, sweetie” thing with women because that’s pretty damn odious, but I feel like it’s OK to make an exception for baseball managers.
Buck Showalter, Mets
[in my best Buck Showalter voice]: “You want a handsome manager? You keep Luis Rojas, OK? We’ve got work to do here.”
Tony La Russa, White Sox
I’m not ever gonna be 100% objective with La Russa. I can’t stand that guy and if there’s beauty to be found there I’m not the one to find it.
Brian Snitker, Atlanta
When you win the World Series you get a lot more photos taken of you in offseason events, out-of-uniform. This usually improves managers’ looks. In Snitker’s case it sort of makes him look like an MCU villain who says things like “All I want is peace. Is that such a bad thing?” before releasing his killer robots or some pathogen or something.
He may be last on this list, but he won the damn World Series this year, and I’m guessing he’d make that trade every single time.
And with that we have put this feature to bed for another year. Thank God.