Who Is the Top Manager in the American Association’s East Division?
American Association Daily provides insights, features, and recaps of the action from around the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions. In today’s edition, after taking a look at the six managers in the West Division yesterday, Robert Pannier examines the six men leading the East Division teams in the American Association today.
A Group That Has Shined
Yesterday, we looked at the six managers in the West Division of the American Association. It is an impressive group with a set of credentials that make them as good as anyone will find in baseball. However, the East side of the American Association has an equally impressive group.
The managers in the East Division boast their own impressive set of credentials. One is a former Major League manager, and three have played in the Major Leagues. Two have reached the thousand win plateau as a manager and four have been Manager of the Year. Three have also won championships, with two winning in the American Association.
Butch Hobson, Chicago Dogs
Butch Hobson is one of the most impressive managers in baseball history, especially during his time in independent ball. He is the winningest manager in independent history (yesterday, I incorrectly stated that that was Greg Tagert), earning 1442 victories in the Atlantic League, Can-Am League, and the American Association. Hobson has 2247 career victories between Major League Baseball, the minor leagues, and independent baseball.
You don’t have that type of career without winning some titles, and Hobson has two of them, winning the Atlantic League championship in 2000 and the Can-Am League title in 2007. He was named the Manager of the Year in the Atlantic league in 2008.
Since joining the Chicago Dogs, Hobson has led his team to the regular season division title in each of the last two seasons and has a 247-210 record in his five seasons with the Chicago Dogs, a .540 winning percentage. Hobson spent eight seasons in Major League Baseball, playing for the Boston Red Sox, California Angels, and the New York Yankees. He managed the Boston Red Sox from 1992-94.
Logan Watkins, Cleburne Railroaders
Logan Watkins will be entering his second full season with the Cleburne Railroaders. He took over late in 2021, then did an amazing job of turning around the Railroaders in 2022, taking a club that was more than 20 games under .500 at one point, and then leading them to a 50-50 mark, earning the club their second straight playoff appearance. The team also won their first playoff series in franchise history.
It was Watkins first opportunity to build a team on his own, and it took him a few months to get the hang of it. However, he learned quickly, nearly leading this team to the championship series.
Watkins also spent time in MLB, playing for the Chicago Cubs in 2013 and 2014. He played for the Wichita Wingnuts in 2018, hitting .338 in 100 games.
Lamarr Rogers, Gary SouthShore RailCats
Lamarr Rogers was in his first season with the Gary SouthShore RailCats in 2022. He had two seasons managing in the minors, even earning Manager of the Year honors in 2015.
Last season, Rogers took over the RailCats late in the off-season, giving him a minimal amount of time to build the team in his own image. Yet, he led the club to a respectable 42-58 record and had this club in the playoff picture until the pitching staff faltered in August. No doubt that a full off-season building his team will help to make Gary SouthShore a force in the East Division.
George Tsamis, Kane County Cougars
George Tsamis is another who has established himself as one of the greatest managers in independent baseball history. He is third all-time among independent managers in victories, recording 1235, trailing only Hobson and Tagert.
Tsamis has led his team to several titles, including in 2004 and 2019 with the St. Paul Saints and he won two titles with the New Jersey Jackals in the Can-Am League (2001-02). In 24 seasons, he has had a losing record just eight times, and has had over 100 players signed by affiliate clubs.
Tsamis played for the Minnesota Twins in 1993. He has a career 1235-1035 record as a manager, posting a .544 winning percentage.
Jim Bennett, Lake Country DockHounds
Jim Bennett is entering his second season as manager of the DockHounds and is in his third season as a manager in the American Association. Bennett began his managerial career in 2019 when he led the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks to a 63-37 mark, earning American Association Manager of the Year honors. He left after that season, joining Lake Country in 2022. The club went 34-66 last season, but it was Bennett’s first opportunity to build a team on his own.
Bennett has been involved in managing and coaching in the Australian Professional Baseball League for several seasons. He coached the Brisbane Bandits this past season, helping the team to finish with the best record in the league (30-10).
Anthony Barone, Milwaukee Milkmen
Anthony Barone may only be entering his fourth season in the American Association, but he has built quite an impressive resume. Barone has a championship under his belt (2020), and is the only manager in the league to lead his team to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.
Barone has a 146-114 record, boasting a .561 winning percentage. His success has not been limited to the record on the field, however. Barone has established himself as one of the best at helping players return to affiliate ball, and his success has been duly noted, as he signed a five-year contract extension in the off-season.