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.