Although there’s still a game left in the regular season (and isn’t it strange that the “play-in” game counts as regular season so that two sets of players get an extra game to pad their stats?) it’s time for me to begin my annual look at the upcoming awards season. As usual, I’m giving you two picks for each award: who I think will win and who I would vote for if I had a vote (sometimes it’s the same guy). I’ll drop these in over the next several weeks (not four posts in a row). This time it’s Manager of the Year.
National League: I think this is essentially a two-man race. In late June the Dodgers were dead in the water and in September they clinched their division title with a great 50 game run. Don Mattingly will (and should) get credit for a lot of that. On the other hand, the Pirates hadn’t produced a winning season in 20 years. Manager Clint Hurdle led them not only to a winning season but to a playoff spot. I think Mattingly, because it’s a prime franchise, will garner several votes, but I expect Hurdle to win the award. I know I’d vote for him.
American League: The AL is much more wide open. I think there are six candidates that can pick up votes. Joe Maddon at Tampa and Bob Melvin at Oakland did great jobs with teams that were supposed to do well, but don’t really have great stars (quick name two Athletics not named Donaldson). Joe Girardi at New York was supposed to do well, but his team was wretched. But I expect him to garner some votes because the problem was injuries not mismanagement. Considering all the Yankees injuries having this team in a playoff hunt with a week to go was damned good work. Did you know that the last time Kansas City had a winning record was 2003 and that the time before that was 1993? Ned Yost led the team to a winning record in 2013 (what is it with the Royals and seasons ending in 3?). That should get him a some votes (I’d put him third). But I think the real race will come down to the men at Boston and Cleveland. Last year Boston lost 93 games and this season John Farrell led them to the best record in the AL. A year after a second consecutive third place finish, Boston let Terry Francona, the only Boston manager to win a World Series in the lively ball era, go. After a year in the broadcast booth, this year he took Cleveland, which lost 94 games last season, to the playoffs. Boston still had a number of quality players from the last few years while Cleveland had nothing last year and very little this year. I think the glitz that is Boston will get Farrell the manager award, but I’d vote for Francona.
Other awards to follow as the muse directs.