Kirk Gibson, Joe Maddon named Managers of the Year

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Your 2011 Managers of the Year: Kirk Gibson and Joe Maddon.

I don’t know what to make of the Manager of the Year Award. Never have. No one has yet shown me a good way to measure the candidates against one another. It usually ends up with a “who did the most with the least” analysis, but there is all kinds of subjectivity that can be brought into that.

Not the least of which is what the very writers who vote on the award thought about the winners’ teams before the season began.  If the writers just totally misjudged a team and thought they would suck but they somehow didn’t suck, they turn around and name that team’s manager Manager of the Year.  Maybe the writers just had it wrong and that team was bound to be good!  Maybe the manager actually underachieved!  There’s no way to know this stuff, of course and, yes, I’m just being a pain in the butt here.

I do know this, though: everyone — myself included — thought the Diamondbacks would stink. They did not stink. Far from it.  And it was therefore inevitable that Kirk Gibson was going to be named NL Manager of the Year.

And there should be no complaining about that as far as I can reckon.  More than just appear to greatly overachieve, Gibson really did change the tone around the Dbacks.  One year removed from a clubhouse revolt that cost A.J. Hinch his job, the Dbacks had an air of top-down discipline from the day spring training started and it remained throughout the season. Gibson is responsible for that and with the Dbacks’ success, even if Kevin Towers made a strong assist by revamping the bullpen and stuff.  It’s really darn hard to find any fault with Gibson winning.

In the AL, we also have a winner whose team bucked expectations.  The Rays lost their entire bullpen and, as usual, had to fight the mighty Yankees and Red Sox with a fraction of the payroll.  I’m pretty sure Maddon would have won even if the Red Sox’ collapse didn’t help the Rays snag the wild card on the last day of the season, but when that happened, the award was secured.  Maddon is a smart guy and does make the most of everything he has.  Absent some other well-accepted metric for judging managerial performance, that kind of thing is going to take it every time.

Congrats Gibby and Joe.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.