Author: Craig Calcaterra

Joe Maddon

Who should win the Manager of the Year Awards? Who Will?


With the regular season ending on Sunday and almost all of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. Yesterday and today’s we’ve been spending some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. The last one up: Managers of the Year

Can we agree, less than a year after Matt Williams won the NL Manager of the Year Award, that the Manager of the Year Award is about as silly and meaningless as an award can be? What’s more likely: (a) Williams was an amazing manager last year who suddenly forgot what the hell he was doing and totally destroyed his team this year; or (b) that his winning the Manager of the Year Award was really about stories and expectations and the preconceived notions of people in the media?

For that matter, let’s say Joe Maddon wins it this year, as he very well may. Does it really mean anything? We knew he was a good manager before this year, of course, but if the Cubs had finished in fourth place instead of third or possibly second place he certainly would not win it, right? Hell, a third place finish with the Cubs not making the playoffs probably means he doesn’t win it. So he sucks and someone is better?

Bruce Bochy and Clint Hurdle are considered great managers. They’re not getting hardware. Hell, Bochy has NEVER won it. UPDATE: Sorry, Bochy won it back when he was with the Padres. He’s never won it as Giants manager, despite three World Series titles. Joe Girardi does a fantastic job year after year and never gets consideration (the one time he did win it, with the Marlins, he got fired). Buck Showalter is considered one of the best and won it last year, suddenly he’s not doing an award-worthy job?

Hogwash. The Manager of the Year Award is about upsetting expectations and predictions. If a team is overrated or expected to do great things and fails, the blame is inordinately placed on the shoulders of the manager. Likewise, if a team is underrated or isn’t expected to do great things and does, we reward the manager with a nice shiny award. That’s about all there is to it. I mean for Pete’s sake, look at this list from

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After Matt Williams is shown the door, five of the past ten Managers of the Year will have been fired or, at the very least, strongly nudged to retire. As a shorthand for skill and merit, the Manager of the Year Award isn’t worth the bronze it’s engraved upon. So, forgive me if I don’t engage in the same sort of “analysis” of this award than I do of the others. The nature of the award defies it and we’re left to just jump into The Narrative River in an Inner-Tube of Denial and float on down to the Gulf of Go With It:

Who should win the AL Manager of the Year Award?

Buck Showalter is probably the best AL Manager but the Orioles didn’t do well so he won’t win it. I think Joe Girardi has done a great job putting out a lineup full of banged up old guys all year, supplementing with young guys who may not have gotten a chance from more conservative managers and, once again, did a great job with his pen. But he won’t win it because voters think the Yankees manager should win 100 games based on payroll alone even though baseball doesn’t work like that.

If we just go with the narrative stuff, Jeff Banister is probably the guy as the Rangers weren’t expected to do anything and had key injuries yet are going to win the AL West. Before the Rangers surged it was probably going to be A.J. Hinch for the same reason. See how that works?

Who will win the AL Manager of the Year Award?

Banister, I figure. And hey, he’s done a good job, so why not?


Who should win the NL Manager of the Year Award?

There’s a lot of managerial talent in the NL. As mentioned above, Bruce Bochy is a Hall of Fame manager and Clint Hurdle has done a great job with the Pirates for a few years now. Joe Maddon, likewise, is considered one of the best managers in baseball for good reason. I mean, it’s no accident that the Cubs threw their old manager over the side when Maddon became available last offseason.

Mike Matheny is often derided as a poor tactical manager, but if any other guy lost his ace at the beginning of the year, lost his all-world catcher to injury (after he spent all year underperforming) and had his big left field bat on the DL for much of the season and STILL won 100 games and cruised in the toughest division in living memory, he’d be a shoe-in. But Matheny won’t win it because of those preconceived notions about his abilities and because the Cardinals were, generally speaking, expected to do well anyway.

And what about Terry Collins? The Mets were expected to be kinda interesting this year, but not a division winner. Are people selling him short because the Nationals are thought of having failed more than the Mets succeeded? But, hey, don’t the Nats have the reigning Manager of the Year?! Isn’t overcoming them worthy of honor?

Maddon, though, has the Cubs in the playoffs a year or two earlier than anyone thought they’d be and, I suppose, he’s just as good a choice as anyone else.

Who will win the NL Manager of the Year Award?

Maddon probably will.

But you see how this works.

Who should win the Rookie of the Year Awards? Who will?

Francisco Lindor

With the regular season ending on Sunday and almost all of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. Yesterday and today’s we’ve been spending some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. Next up: Rookies of the Year

Who should win the AL Rookie of the Year Award?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but this race is super close, with two candidates with nearly identical credentials. In this case it’s even harder as the top two candidates are at the same position: Shortstop (apologies to Miguel Sano who, while hitting the daylights out of the ball hasn’t played nearly as much as the top two candidates and has no defensive value).

Carlos Correa burst onto the scene in Houston in early June at the tender age of 20 and proceeded to beat the living hell out of baseballs. His line: .277/.343/.504 with 21 homers and 63 driven in in a mere 96 games and an OPS+ of 130. That’s crazy power for a 20 (now 21) year-old and crazy power for a shortstop of any age.

Francisco Lindor burst onto the scene in Cleveland in mid June at the tender age of 21 and proceeded to beat the living hell out of baseballs. His line: .319/.357/.491 with 21 doubles, 12 homers and 51 RBI in a mere 96 games and an OPS+ of 125. That’s not quite Correa power but it’s better contact and on-base stuff and amazing production for a shortstop of any age.

Quite even to be sure, but the separator here is defense. Correa is no liability, but he’s pretty ordinary with the glove so far. Lindor, however, has been a superior shortstop both according to the numbers and to the naked eye. His arrival in Cleveland totally changed the game for the Tribe this year, transforming them from underachievers to a team that made a serious run for a playoff spot. If Lindor had been there all year it’s not crazy to think that they’d be in the wild card game next week.

Lindor’s offense is a bit of a surprise this year. He really wasn’t expected to hit like this right out of the gate. And he may not hit like this forever, in which case Correa may prove to be the better player going forward, be it as a shortstop or a third baseman, which is where I think he’ll ultimately end up. But the Rookie of the Year award is not about projections and potential. It’s about what the rookies did. And given there more or less even offensive contributions and Lindor’s superior leather, he’s the guy who should take the hardware home.

Who will win the AL Rookie of the year Award?

Historically there has been less narrative nonsense infecting Rookie of the Year award voting than other award voting. Prospect politics haven’t played into it too much. Very often Rookies of the Year come from losing teams — how else would they have gotten the opportunity for so much PT? — and thus the winning team narrative isn’t as prominent. This year, however, I feel like that stuff will be a bigger factor than in the past, mostly because so many rookies have played such a big part in pennant races.

The Indians entry into the wild card race came late and it came quite a bit after early season Astros Mania took hold. Sure, Correa joined the Astros after much of that mania took hold and even after the Astros themselves began to play a bit worse, but he’s been largely associated with the big surprise season in particular and the Astros’ bright future in general. Between that and Cleveland being one of the lowest profile teams in all of baseball year-in, year-out, it would not surprise me at all if some voters overlook Lindor a bit. For this reason I feel like Correa will win it, even if Lindor would be my guy.


Who should win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

This was a much closer race earlier in the year but Kris Bryant and his .279/.369/.475 line, 26 homers and, by the end of this weekend, most likely, 100+ RBI have separated themselves from the pack. It seems like ages ago that everyone was all in a tizzy about the Cubs leaving him in Iowa at the start of the season for service time manipulation purposes. Now all he is is a huge part of the Cubs’ big year and, by far, the highest profile and highest achieving rookie in the NL.

Not that he’s alone “in the conversation.” But that term is in quotes because it’s not truly a big conversation. Matt Duffy of the Giants has had a fine year and, before he went down with that ugly injury, Jung Ho Kang was having an equally fine year. Duffy, also a third baseman, is the better fielder than Bryant, but Bryant hasn’t embarrassed himself there, allowing his offensive advantages to give him the inside track to the award.

Who will win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

Bryant. And I don’t think it’ll be a particularly close vote.

No, Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer were not mocking Papelbon

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Something funny happened in the Nationals dugout last night. Before the game, Max Scherzer went up to Bryce Harper in the dugout and put his hands around Harper’s neck. And they both had a laugh about it.

One’s first impulse would be to assume that Scherzer and Harper were having a little fun about the whole Harper-Papelbon-choking thing from Sunday. And, indeed, it was the first impulse of many like Fox:


And the New York Post:

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But it’s only eyebrow raising if you don’t know any better. Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post — and, I am sure, many others who cover the Nationals regularly — know better. Steinberg writes that Scherzer and Harper have been doing this pretend-choking thing for several weeks, long before Papelbon went ape on Harper. And he provides photographic and video examples.

So, stand down, Internet. Stay vigilant for another tongue-wagging moment. This is nothing more than some good old fashioned good chemistry in the Nationals dugout. For a change.

Colin Cowherd is 100% right about something

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I’ve taken shots at Colin Cowherd many times in the past and I will do so many times in the future because, hey, we don’t really see a lot of things eye to eye. It happens. If he has heard of me (I seriously doubt he has) and knows any of my opinions (I seriously doubt he does or even cares), he’d probably disagree with me too.

The most recent reason I took issue with Cowherd was, as he was leaving ESPN, he made some pretty controversial comments about Dominican players which, at best, were hamfisted and could’ve been worse if you didn’t take his apology at face value. He was soon taken off the air by ESPN, though it didn’t really matter as he was about to start his new job at Fox. One would be forgiven if one were to assume that, when it came to baseball stuff, particularly baseball stuff involving race and ethnicity, Cowherd would continue to not be your go-to source for the good opinions.

But credit where it is due, Cowherd spoke for a while yesterday about bat flips and the unwritten rules and Bud Norris’ controversial comments in that Jorge L. Ortiz story about the racial and ethnic divide in sports and he was pretty much right on the money.

His take: baseball is fun, or at least it should be. Getting bent out of shape about unwritten rules and decorum is old man business and makes ballplayers look boring, unfun and, potentially, worse. Watch:


No, he’s not digging deep on the racial/ethnic angle of it here, but that stuff in inextricably linked to the unwritten rules business and I’m sure Cowherd knows that. But that aside, he’s dead-on about baseball’s stifling culture being unappealing to young fans, new fans and, generally speaking, being boring and stodgy. It’s a game. Don’t take yourself too seriously, ballplayers. Have some fun out there. And don’t be such a buzzkill when someone else is.

Good for Cowherd for hitting this one on the nose.