Are the Mets better with a first-time or experienced manager?

Houston Astros  v Baltimore Orioles - Game One
Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles - Game One / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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Davey Johnson
Davey Johnson was the Mets manager when the team won their second championship in 1986. / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

Exploring the Data

There have been 23 managers hired in the Mets franchise history (not counting their manager for the 2022 season). This number includes all interim managers and those who were hired but never managed a game for the team (Carlos Beltran). The first manager in Mets history was Casey Stengel, and their most recent one was Luis Rojas.

For this study, I focused primarily on the results: I examined each manager’s win-loss record while at the helm, making note of when the Mets made the postseason and won the World Series.

There have been 12 experienced managers in the team’s franchise history. They are Casey Stengel, Gil Hodges, Yogi Berra, Roy McMillan, George Bamberger, Frank Howard, Jeff Torborg, Dallas Green, Bobby Valentine, Art Howe, Jerry Manuel, and Terry Collins. Between the twelve of them, they have managed a total of 5,781 games. Their combined record was 2,707-3,074, with a winning percentage of .4682.

The Mets have hired many experienced and rookie managers in their franchise history, all of whom have yielded both positive and negative results.

On the other end, the Mets have hired 11 rookie managers. They are Wes Westrum, Salty Parker, Joe Frazier, Joe Torre, Davey Johnson, Bud Harrelson, Mike Cubbage, Willie Randolph, Mickey Callaway, Carlos Beltran, and Luis Rojas. In total, the rookie managers led the team over 3,697 games. Their overall record was 1844-1853, with a winning percentage of .4987. Although rookie managers account for less games than the experienced managers, they get the edge here.

Next, playoff appearances were examined. Were experienced or rookie managers at the helm when the Mets made the postseason? The Mets were first founded in 1962. The 2021 season was the franchise’s 59th season of existence. In those 59 seasons, the team has made the postseason nine times (1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2015, and 2016). Six of those playoff appearances came when the Mets were being managed by an experienced manager while three playoff appearances were under the helm of a rookie manager. As a result, it can be concluded that experienced managers have delivered more postseason appearances than rookie managers, but they have also managed 2,084 more games than the rookie managers. Rookie managers also made up for approximately 25 Mets seasons while experienced managers made up around 34 seasons. By percentages, experienced managers led their team to the postseason 17.6% (6 out of 34) of the time, whereas rookie managers brought the Mets to the postseason 12% (3 out of 25) of the time. As a result, experienced managers still get the edge.

Last, World Series championships were examined. The Mets have won two World Series championships in their franchise history (1969 and 1986). Gil Hodges was the manager of the 1969 World Series team and Davey Johnson was the manager of the 1986 Mets. Based on how managers are defined in this study, Hodges is credited as experienced and Johnson as a rookie, making it a draw between the two types of managers in regards to winning championships.

So who are the Mets better off with, a rookie or experienced manager? Deciding that a draw regarding World Series championships will make it harder to come to an answer, I decided to break it down further.