In my previous posts regarding my choices for year-end awards, I never really talked about the manager of the year. But, I believe it’s worth looking into as the season has come to an end, and we are approaching the end of the postseason.
There are several candidates this year that seem to have a good case. Jim Leyland, Joe Girardi and Ron Washington continue to be impressive with their teams, but most people expected those teams to be good (perhaps even more than they were). Surely Robin Ventura has to be in the mix, since I don’t know anyone that isn’t a White Sox fan that thought they had any chance of winning as much as they did. Buck Showalter is working his magic once again in Baltimore. Just his second full season in Baltimore, and they’ve gone from perpetual cellar-dweller to the playoffs. But, I would have to give my vote to Bob Melvin. They didn’t just win the AL West when no one expected it. They won the division that contained the two-time defending AL champions. The division that included the team that acquired the biggest offensive free agent (Pujols) and pitching free agent (Wilson) in the game during the off-season. And, Melvin’s team gave up their top 2 starting pitchers (Gio Gonzalez & Trevor Cahill), leaving them with no one that won more than 9 games in the previous year, in addition to sending their closer (Bailey) to Boston. The A’s were supposed to compete with Seattle for the bottom of the division, not win it.
This one is a little tougher for me to decide because you don’t have teams like Baltimore, Chicago or Oakland who overachieved at that level. Even the teams that perhaps weren’t expected to be quite as good as they were (St. Louis, San Francisco, Atlanta), they still weren’t expected to be at the bottom of their respective divisions. If the Pirates or Mets had somehow managed to finish with a winning record, and within striking distance of the playoffs, it would have been easy to consider Clint Hurdle or Terry Collins getting my vote. But, the way they both fizzled at the end was disappointing. I think I would have to give my vote to Davey Johnson. Even with the additions of Gio Gonzalez and eventual call-up of Bryce Harper looming, many were expecting a middle-of-the-pack finish at best for the Nationals. Instead, they ended up with the best record in baseball. Pretty impressive for a team many thought was a year or two away from being great.