MLB Managers Field Study logo

MLB Manager Hiring Criteria and Career Pathways from 2010-19

What are the hiring and firing trends for MLB managers over the past decade, and do those trends differ among managers of different races/ethnicities?

In 1996, Edward Rimer published a groundbreaking study that examined whether uniform standards were applied to all individuals who were hired as Major League Baseball managers between 1975 and 1994. His research found there were different attributes sought among Black, Hispanic, and White managers. The data below, collected and analyzed by the Global Sport Institute, builds upon Rimer’s foundational work by examining the time period between the 2010 and 2019 MLB seasons.

These figures show the trends for MLB managers broken down by race/ethnicity. In some cases, non-White managers are grouped together in a “managers of Color” category, while at other times they are broken out individually. Within these figures are the factors often cited when considering MLB manager qualifications, such as highest level of playing experience and past years of coaching and managing experience. Other factors we highlight include the last position played by the incoming manager, the team’s record during the managers’ tenure, and the job role immediately held before and after obtaining their current manager role.

Number of Managers Hired Each Year by Race/Ethnicity for 2010-19

The chart below shows the race/ethnicity of incoming managers for 2010-19.


  • Between the 2010 and 2019 seasons, 63 managerial changes occurred across Major League Baseball.
  • Within the 10-season window, the overall number and percentage of managers of Color decreased, while the number and percentage of White managers increased.
  • Within specific racial/ethnic minority groups, African Americans saw the greatest decrease, while Puerto Ricans saw the only increase of more than one manager.

MLB Manager Prior Playing Experience

 

Previous research on positional segregation or stacking going back to the 1970s showed a decades-long trend that Blacks and Latinos are generally outfielders and not in leadership positions such as middle infielders, pitchers, or catchers. The exclusion of players of Color from on-field leadership positions often leads to their exclusion from being managers, similar to how the historical absence of Black quarterbacks led to the lack of the typical development pipeline for NFL head coaches of Color.
The interactive chart below shows the most recent position played by the MLB managers hired from 2010-19.
  • The position of catcher did not provide a pathway for managers of Color to the same degree as it did for White managers.
  • While pitching represents a narrow pathway for managers overall, it has been closed to managers of Color.
  • At the time of our analyses, approximately 45% of catchers active in MLB were people of Color, a percentage that suggests potential a future pipeline for aspiring managers of Color.

Highest Level of Playing
Experience for Incoming Managers by Race

  • While the vast majority of all incoming managers had MLB playing experience, no managers of Color achieved a manager position without at least minor league experience.
  • Although only one White manager was hired with only college experience, it nonetheless represented a pathway closed to managers of Color.

Total Incoming MLB Coaches

  • 88% of all managers in our study’s timeframe previously played in MLB.
  • In Rimer’s earlier study, only 80.4% of White managers had MLB playing experience, compared to 100% of Black and Hispanic managers; in our recent field study the numbers of White with MLB experience had grown to 84%, shrinking the experience gap between races/ethnicities.
  • No managers of Japanese descent were hired during the timeframe we examined.

MLB Division History of Hiring
White Managers vs. Managers of Color

A deeper division-by-division look shows hiring disparities among different regions for the time period examined.
The eastern division of the National League was much more likely than any other division to hire a manager of Color.
  • Of the 13 managers of Color hired during this span, five were in the NL East.
  • The other five divisions accounted for the remaining eight hires, with only one or two hired in each division.
  • 29 of the MLB’s 30 teams hired new managers during 2010-19; Of those teams, fewer than half (14) hired managers of Color, and only two teams hired more than one manager of Color: the Miami Marlins and the Washington Nationals.

How Do Managers of Color Fare in Comparison to White Managers?

In terms of wins and losses, managers of Color were more likely to be fired than White managers, as just over half of outgoing White managers were fired, while three-quarters of managers of Color were fired (as opposed to leaving the position for other reasons). This was despite the fact that managers of Color and White managers had similar winning percentages across seasons, including during their final seasons.


Winning Percentages of White
MLB Managers vs. MLB Managers of Color

Average Managerial Tenure
for Outgoing Managers

Percentage of Managers Fired
  • Win-loss percentages as a measure of success did not explain the higher rate of firing for managers of Color.

Immediate Next Opportunity for Outgoing Managers by Ethnicity for 2010-19

After being fired, there were fewer opportunities for managers of Color compared to White managers, whose next jobs are distributed over slightly more options, especially within MLB. The numbers did not indicate dramatic differences, but it appeared fewer opportunities are available to managers of Color.

Next Opportunity African American Cuban Japanese American Mexican American Multiracial Puerto Rican Venezuelan White
Coach Other Pro 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Manager Other Pro 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
Media 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5
MilB Coach 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MiLB Manager 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
MLB Coach 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 10
MLB Executive 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
MLB Manager 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 5
MLB Other 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 9
N/A 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 7
Other 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Retired 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6

Note. Coach Other Pro = Coaching in a professional league other than Major League Baseball; Manager Other Pro = Managing in a professional league other than Major League Baseball; MiLb = Minor League Baseball; MLB = Major League Baseball; N/A indicates there was a delay in obtaining a new position that extended beyond the timeline of these analyses; Other = the next position was not sport/broadcasting related; Retired = retired.

Want to dig deeper into the numbers?

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT