The MLB clubs that consistently make October runs don’t just have stars on the diamond and master button-pressers in the dugout, they also have savvy general managers calling the shots in the front office.

From Brian Cashman in the Bronx to Billy Beane and Brian Sabean on opposite sides of the Bay, there are all sorts of top-flight execs around the league.

As the 2015 season approaches, now is the perfect time to sift through the array of candidates and build a list of the best of the best. In the process of constructing the top 10, a variety of factors were taken into consideration. Here are the four most important:

  1. The number of World Series titles—after all, that’s what it’s all about
  2. The number of playoff appearances
  3. The GMs’ track record on the trade block, the free-agent front and in the draft
  4. The Payroll Limitation Factor

That final bullet point requires a bit of explaining. Baseball is not an even playing field—not even close. Last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers opened up the season with a $229 million payroll, while the Miami Marlins fell at the opposite side of the spectrum with just under $46 million in commitments.

The idea of the “Payroll Limitation Factor” is to take that drastic disparity into consideration in the ranking process. Each GM gets a score from zero to five, with zero representing no limitations and five representing the most. As a result, the GMs are graded on the basis of what they’ve accomplished with the means available.

Cashman, Beane and Sabean all end up near the top of the list, but none of them claims the distinction of the No. 1 spot.

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