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

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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:

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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.

Dodgers clinch NL’s top seed, West title with win over A’s

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Wrapping up an NL West title has become routine for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in a year in which no one was sure three months ago if there would be a baseball season, manager Dave Roberts wanted his team to still savor the moment.

The Dodgers clinched the NL’s top postseason seed and eighth straight division title Tuesday night with a 7-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics. They are third team to win at least eight straight division titles, joining the Atlanta Braves (14 straight from 1991-2005) and New York Yankees (nine straight from 1998-2006).

“To fast forward a couple months and be crowned NL West champs is a credit to everyone. It should never be taken for granted,” Roberts said. “Truth be told a lot of guys didn’t know we could clinch. We were responsible but I let it know that it has to be appreciated.”

The Dodgers, who own the best record in the majors at 39-16, were the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting every game in a best-of-three series against the No. 8 seed.

Los Angeles came into the day with a magic number of two and got help with the Angels’ 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Instead of a wild celebration on the mound after Jake McGee struck out Sean Murphy for the final out, players briskly walked out of the dugout to celebrate with teammates. Everyone grabbed a division clinching shirt and cap before heading to the mound for a group photo.

The clubhouse celebration was also muted. Champagne was still involved, but it was players toasting each other with a glass instead of being showered in it.

“We talked about it instead of dumping stuff on people. It’s a moment you need to celebrate and we did,” said Corey Seager, who had three hits and one of Los Angeles’ four home runs, “It stinks not being able to do champagne and beer showers because some of the younger guys haven’t been able to experience that.”

Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and AJ Pollock also went deep for Los Angeles, which leads the majors with 104 home runs.

“This whole year has been weird. There’s no other way to describe it,” Muncy said. “It’s sad not to be celebrate as usual but we know there is a lot more at stake.”

Dustin May (2-1) went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits. The 22-year-old red-headed righty set a team record by not allowing more than three earned runs in his first 13 career starts, which include 10 this season.

Robbie Grossman homered for Oakland, which clinched its first AL West crown in seven years on Monday during a day off. The Athletics, in the postseason for the third straight year, currently are the AL’s No. 3 seed.

Mark Canha had two of Oakland’s five hits.

Seager tied it at 1 in the first with an RBI single and then led off the fifth with a drive to center off T.J. McFarland to extend LA’s lead to 6-2.

Muncy gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer. Taylor and Pollock extended it with solo shots in the fourth off Oakland starter Frankie Montas (3-5).

Grossman quickly gave Oakland a 1-0 lead when he homered off the left-field pole in the first inning. Sean Murphy briefly gave the Athletics a 2-1 advantage when he led off the third with a walk and scored on a wild pitch by May with two outs.

Montas, who allowed only four home runs in his first seven starts, has given up six in his past three. The right-hander went four innings and yielded five runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

“They’re a pretty good team that when you make mistakes, they make you pay,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “They’re pretty good laying off and making you throw it over the plate. They made Montas pay, unfortunately.”

Cody Bellinger added two hits for the Dodgers, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the seventh.

ATHLETICS ADVANCE

The A’s have a team text thread they used to celebrate clinching their first AL West title since 2013 during their off day Monday, when the Mariners beat Houston.

“We didn’t really celebrate too much yet. It’s exciting,” Chad Pinder said. “We wanted to do it on our own terms. We still won the division and that was our goal. It’s nice to know we’ll be playing home for the series.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: INF/OF Pinder (strained right hamstring) planned to run at Dodger Stadium and test his leg with hopes of still playing before the conclusion of the regular season. …. RHP Daniel Mengden has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. He was designated for assignment after being medically cleared and reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list following a positive test from Aug. 28.

Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch due to left hamstring discomfort He came off the injured list on Sept. 15 and has not played in the field since Aug. 28. … Joc Pederson was in the lineup at DH after missing five games while on the family emergency medical list. Roberts said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Pederson will remain with the team during the entire postseason.

UP NEXT

Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (4-3, 4.50) is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA over his last five starts dating to Aug. 20.

Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias (3-0, 3.49) will make his team-leading 11th start.

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this story.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports