It's no secret that active managers and coaches are getting younger each and every year. Most recently, front-offices have become more open to hiring recently retired players to lead their clubs.
With a higher reliance on analytics and less dependency on the Xs and Os, the prototypical old-school skippers have dwindled in favor of what are often labeled as player's coaches. Highlighted by Aaron Boone of the Yankees, Alex Cora of the Red Sox and Craig Counsell of the Brewers, a player's coach often encourages player personality and team fun, higher focus on building player-coach relationships, and aims to build team culture with a more youthful touch.
While all current managers have both high-level playing and coaching experience, not all made it to Show during their playing days.
Of the 30 active managers in Major League Baseball, 26 reached the big leagues as a player and 29 played in the minors. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt is the lone manager who never played professional baseball, as he decided to hang up the cleats for a high school coaching gig after playing four years of college ball at UNC Asheville.
Rarely do baseball's superstars transition into managerial roles due to concerns with having too much spotlight and attention on the manager instead of the players. Rather, most player-turned-managers are former undersized infielders, grit-and-grind role players, and highly respected defensive-minded catchers.
A handful of these type of players exist in the league today. Who will have the opportunity to be head honcho once their playing days reach their respective climaxes?
These are the 10 active players who we believe should be considered.
Yadi has been heralded as one of the wisest pitch callers in the history of baseball. Coaching runs in the family -- his brother José is in his first season as catching coach with the Angels and eldest brother Bengie has shuffled through a number of different coaching roles with the Rangers, Rays and Angels.
The ultimate team-first guy, Gardner was a former walk-on who basically talked himself onto the roster at College of Charleston and turned himself into a veteran leader of the Yankees. A relentless attitude helped evolve him into a World Series champion with loads of experience playing under the pressures of wearing the pinstripes. Quite the underdog story.
3. Adam Jones
Jones will always be remembered as an American icon for his awe-inspiring home run robbing snag in the World Baseball Classic back in 2017, which would eventually help the U.S. eliminate the Dominican Republic. He's also played 14 seasons in the bigs and nearly 20 years of professional baseball overall -- a well-respected and intelligent player with an abundance of development experience.
4. Ben Zobrist
Another player with a Hollywood-type story, Zobrist played his college ball at Oliviet Nazarene University, a small NAIA school in Illinois. Zobrist only earned that scholarship after deciding to spend 50 dollars of his birthday money to tryout at a nearby camp. Fast-forward to 2019 and the NAIA-bred utility player is a three-time All-Star and World Series champion.
Tabbed as being this era's Greg Maddux, Hendricks has found a way to dominate opposing offenses despite averaging sub-90 mph on his fastball. How does he do it? His prowess to place his pitches in all four corners of the zone is certainly advantageous, but his IQ and ability to outsmart hitters is reason to believe he could, in the least, be a fantastic pitching coach.
6. Alex Avila
The longtime Tiger, now Diamondback, has hit just enough to earn one and two-year contracts each of the past five seasons. An All-Star in 2011, Alex is the son of Tigers GM Al Avila, meaning the opportunity to get into the business side of baseball is right there for the taking.
This list has already featured an Ivy League graduates in Hendricks, and although Descalso does not fall into that category, his alma mater UC Davis is one of the more respected institutions on the West Coast. A 2004 graduate with a degree in business, Descalso is one those scrappy, veteran players who always finds his way onto a contending team. His career accolades include a World Series championship in St. Louis back in 2011.
Add another height-challenged infielder to the list. Albeit, this 5-foot-9 infielder is one of the more accomplished players in Red Sox history. A three-time World Series champion, Pedroia's leadership and baseball IQ has been well-documented throughout his career. He's a Red Sox legend who will likely have his number retired not longer after he officially retires ... or could he sport the No. 15 threads one last time as a manager?
9. Trevor Bauer
Bauer is not only one of the most interesting beings in the league, but he's also one of the most canny and intuitive. With a degree from UCLA in engineering, Bauer is almost always considered the "smartest man in the room," no matter where he goes. He has found a way to build relationships with colleagues and players through his social media presence; networking is crucial to landing a managerial role. Most importantly, he is a disciple of Driveline Baseball, a data-driven baseball performance training program responsible for many of the developments of today's top pitching prospects.
10. Erik Kratz
Do the names Bruce Bochy or Bob Melvin ring a bell? How about AJ Hinch? That's right, all three of those current managers were once no-named backup catchers; two of which led their teams to recent World Series titles. Kratz is a veteran backstop who has played his fair share of minor league innings, having spent more than half of his career their. Last season with the Brewers, he became the oldest player (38 years, 114 days) to make his playoff debut since 1905. He can't hit a lick, but he is a pitch-calling wizard behind the dish.