The BBWAA has voted, and Bud Black is the National League Manager of the Year.
Black beat out Dusty Baker by a single point, garnering 16 first place votes, seven second place votes and three third place votes. Baker’s breakdown was 13, 12 and two. Following Black and Baker on the list were Bruce Bochy, Bobby Cox, Charlie Manuel and Brad Mills.
As I’ve said in the past, no one has ever set forth a good measurement for what makes a Manager of the Year, so it usually ends up with a “who did the most with the least” analysis. Bud Black likely won on that basis. But really, it was probably more of a perceived least — perceived by the voters — than an actual least. Everyone picked the Padres to finish in last place this year. They didn’t, and a lot of it had to do with a roster that turned out to be better than a lot of people expected. Should Black be rewarded because of the so-called experts’ low expectations? In practice he was, but I’m not sure it should always work that way. If the expectations were a bit different, we could easily portray the Padres’ season as one that was great but got derailed by an ugly ten-game losing streak late in the year which ended up costing them the division. Has a manager whose team fit that description ever won Manager of the Year before?
None of which is to slight Black. He did do a fine job, and is by all accounts a fine manager. But I can’t help but think that the Manager of the Year Award, generically speaking, tells us a lot more about the writers who vote on it than the managers themselves.