Rookie skipper Matt Williams, who led the Nationals to a first-place finish in the NL East, got 18 of the 30 first-place votes to claim NL Manager of the Year honors in balloting released Tuesday.
Williams topped Pittsburgh’s Clint Hurdle (eight first-place votes) and San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy (three first-place votes) for the award. He was named on 25 of the 30 ballots, compared to 24 for Hurdle and just 12 for Bochy. Marlins manager Mike Redmond got the other first-place vote, that coming from a Miami writer (Luis E. Rangel).
Voting, of course, took place for Williams made a mess of the NLDS in a loss to the Giants. The Nationals improved from 86-76 in their final year under Davey Johnson to 96-66 with Williams at the helm. Still, expectations were plenty high going in, with most predicting the Nationals would win the NL East. Williams is likely being credited for his handling of the clubhouse, in particular his benching of Bryce Harper for not running out a groundout in April. He did a fine job of handling the closer switch in September when Rafael Soriano fell apart.
Still, it’s hard to believe any of the writers who voted for Williams would currently say anyone except Bochy is the NL’s best manager. His Giants won their third World Series in five years last month, doing so with less frontline talent than the Nationals possessed. Voting was done before the postseason, but it’s bizarre that 60 percent of the voters couldn’t find room for him on their ballots.