Bernie Brewer Region
(1) Phil Garner vs. (4) Ken Macha
Phil Garner managed some forgettable teams in the 1990s, led by guys like Ricky Bones and Ben McDonald. Nevertheless, he did manage for eight seasons in Milwaukee and is still the winningest manager in franchise history. Garner took over in 1992 for Tom Trebelhorn and led the Crew to a second place finish that year with 92 wins.
In 1993, the Brewers finished in last place, winning only 69 games, spurred on by the loss of Paul Molitor in free agency. That began a span of disappointing seasons for Milwaukee. The closest Garner ever got the Brewers back to success was a third place finish in the AL Central in 1996 and 1997. He managed the club through their transition to the National League in 1998, before being let go midway through the 1999 season. His final record was 563-617.
Ken Macha inherited a talented Brewers squad that was returning practically all of their star players from their 2008 run to the postseason, and man, did he completely botch it. Despite having Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, JJ Hardy, Corey Hart, and Yovani Gallardo in their primes, Macha couldn’t even manage a .500 season out of that group that just went to the playoffs.
The Brewers went 80-82 in 2009 and then struggled to a 77-85 record in 2010 before he was finally fired. He wasted two prime years in that playoff window the Brewers had. Right after he was fired, the Brewers won the division. Is that a coincidence? You decide. I don’t think so, but you decide.
(2) Buck Rodgers vs. (3) Del Crandall
Buck Rodgers took over for George Bamberger after Bamberger started having medical issues and had to miss time in the dugout. He started in 1980, and the team went 39-31 under him. In a shortened season in 1981, Rodgers led the team to a 62-47 record, earning the AL East title. Back again in 1982, Rodgers had the team sitting at 23-24.
He was fired at that point in favor of Harvey Kuenn. Rodgers managed parts of three seasons for the Brewers, and got them to their first postseason appearance. His final record was 124-102. His .549 winning percentage is third highest in franchise history.
Del Crandall was the Brewers manager from 1973-75 during the George Scott–Don Money–Darrell Porter years. They finished a solid 5th place in the AL East in each of Crandall’s three seasons at the helm. His 76 wins in 1974 was the high water mark for the franchise until Bamberger took over in 1978. Still, the closest the Brewers got to the postseason under Crandall was 15 games back.
Crandall was the initial manager for Hall of Famer Robin Yount, helping develop the teenager from California. It wasn’t until a few years later that Yount finally got into high gear. Crandall finished his Brewers managerial career with a 271-338 record, 67 games below .500.