Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
5. Tony Pena
It may seem strange to put someone with a career 198-285 record during his three plus seasons with the Kansas City Royals as the fifth best manager in team history. However, the fact that Pena was able to coax an 83-79 record out of the 2003 squad, a team whose pitching staff was led by Darrell May‘s ten wins and received a 9-6 record from Chris George despite a 7.11 ERA, is truly astounding. Someone call the Pope to canonize Pena, because he certainly performed quite a few miracles that year.
While Pena left the Royals partway through the 2005 season, mainly out of frustration due to the lack of direction and commitment to winning from ownership and the front office, that does not diminish what he was able to accomplish. Until 2013, that was the only winning season the Royals had for twenty years, leaving Pena as the sole beacon during the Dark Ages of Kansas City baseball.
One has to wonder what would have happened if the Royals had committed towards building a winning ballclub during Pena’s tenure. He certainly showed the baseball acumen necessary to be a successful manager, making it an interesting exercise to imagine Pena with the commitment to bringing a championship to Kansas City that exists now.
During that one magical season, Tony Pena was able to bring excitement and winning back to the Kansas City Royals. The former Manager of the Year certainly deserves a place on this list.
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