Gardenhire tops Washington for AL Manager of the Year

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Ron Gardenhire finished runner-up for Manager of the Year in five of his first eight seasons as the Twins’ skipper, including each of the past two seasons. Today he finally claimed the award for the first time, receiving 16 of 28 first-place votes to top Ron Washington of the Rangers and Joe Maddon of the Rays.

Gardenhire led the Twins to their sixth AL Central title in nine seasons, winning 94 games despite losing closer Joe Nathan to Tommy John surgery in spring training and cleanup hitter Justin Morneau to a concussion in July.

He was the only manager named on all 28 ballots cast by Baseball Writers Association of America members. Washington received 10 first-place votes, while Maddon and Cito Gaston received one apiece. Voting was conducted at the end of the regular season, so the Twins being swept by the Yankees in the first round and the Rangers advancing to the World Series were not factors.

I’m far from the world’s biggest Gardenhire fan, but the notion that he could be deemed the second-best manager in the league five times in eight seasons without ever actually winning the award always struck me as fairly absurd and perhaps more than anything reinforced the idea that there’s really no clear, established criteria for picking a winner.

Did he do a better job than Washington or Maddon or Gaston or Francona? I don’t think anyone really knows the answer to that, but Gardenhire won 94 games minus two of his stars and certainly deserved the award as much as anyone this season. Mostly, though, it’s a tough award to really argue about objectively.

Starling Marté, Erik González placed on injured list following outfield collision

Starling Marte
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Pirates center fielder Starling Marté has been placed on the 10-day injured list with an abdominal wall contusion and bruised right quad and shortstop Erik González has been assigned to the 60-day injured list with a fractured left clavicle, the club announced Saturday. In corresponding moves, outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds and shortstop Cole Tucker have been called up from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Both Marté and González were removed from Friday’s game against the Giants after colliding on an attempted outfield catch in the eighth inning. The players fell to the ground after crashing into each other at full speed and appeared to be in severe pain for several minutes. González was eventually able to walk off the field without assistance, while Marté was carted off after receiving attention from the Pirates’ staff.

It’s an unfortunate loss for the Pirates, as both players will likely require a lengthy recovery process before they’re cleared to rejoin the roster later this season. Prior to the incident, Marté slashed just .203/.247/.377 with seven extra-base hits, three stolen bases (in four chances), and a .623 OPS through his first 74 plate appearances of 2019, while González maintained a .216/.298/.294 batting line with three extra bases, two stolen bases, and a .592 OPS through 59 PA.

In the interim, however, the club will benefit from the talents of two top-10 prospects. Reynolds, 24, ranks no. 8 in the Pirates’ farm system and was promoted to Triple-A at the start of 2019, where he played center field and slashed .367/.446/.735 with five home runs and 11 RBI through 57 PA. Tucker, 22, placed fifth-best among the team’s prospects and also received his first promotion to Triple-A this spring, where his .333 average, three homers, and five stolen bases recommended him for an early MLB debut. Reynolds and Tucker are scheduled to make their big-league debuts together on Saturday against the Giants at 4:05 PM EDT.