The playing part of the 2012 season is now over and congratulations are in order to the Giants. We now begin the second part of the season, the awards and honors section. This part of the season lasts until January and includes all the postseason awards plus the two Hall of Fame votes. I’m going to take some time to voice my opinion on the awards by letting readers know both who I think will win and who I think should win. Frequently those aren’t the same people. I start with the Managers. Let me remind you that all awards voting is done before the playoffs begin so nothing that happens in the playoffs can affect the awards.
AL–I presume Buck Showalter will win. The Orioles hadn’t won in the 21st Century, lost one of their best players (Nick Markakis), battled the Yankees with their overwhelming salary advantage, and made the playoffs as a wildcard team. That’s worthy of Manager of the Year in the American League. But let me remind you about Oakland and Bob Melvin. The Athletics last made the playoffs in 2006, then wandered through a wasteland with one semi-winning season (2010 when they finished at exactly .500). They hired Melvin with about 100 games left (actually 99) in 2011 and this year they won the AL West. In doing so they put up the second best record in the AL (one game better than Baltimore, one game less than New York. They also had to take on the reigning AL champion (Texas) and won the head-to-head matchup that propelled them to the division title (remember Baltimore won a wild card, not a division). I think Showalter will win, but I wouldn’t be upset if Melvin (my choice) won the award.
NL–I presume this is Davey Johnson’s award. He took a team that had never won a thing, led it to the best record in baseball, had to put up with the Strasburg circus, and still found a way to win. Certainly nothing wrong with those credentials and ultimately I’d probably vote for him, but take a look at the following candidates. Bruce Bochy saw his ace, a two-time Cy Young winner, fall apart, replaced him with pitchers who were over the hill (Zito), or had twenty total wins going into the season (Bumgarner), or whose claim to fame was that he was pretty good in Japan (Vogelsong) and had only one decent year in the US. Then he has a team that finishes dead last in power (only two players available for the Series had double figure home runs). Finally, his best player and All Star game MVP (Cabrera) is banned for 50 games. The result of all this is a first place finish. Also take a look at Mike Matheny. I know he manages the reigning World Champions, but it’s not the same team as last season. Three quarters of his infield is new. Pujols is gone replaced by Craig who isn’t a first baseman, Furcal goes down and is replaced by a rookie, Descalso has moved from third to second (but at least is still in the infield), Craig is on outfielder moved to third. That’s messing with half the starters. Top that off with losing his ace (Carpenter) and still the Cards made the playoffs. Not bad for a rookie manager.
I think that Showalter and Johnson will win and if they do they won’t be bad choices, but don’t forget the others. They deserve a lot of credit for the success of their team.