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 Baseball-Reference.com:
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.