Brian Snitker, Bob Melvin win 2018 Manager of the Year Awards

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Snitker, 63, is in his third season as the Braves’ manager. In 2018, he led the Braves to a 90-72 first-place finish, sending the team to the postseason for the first time since 2013. The Braves lost in four games to the Dodgers.

Snitker received 17 of 30 first-place votes. Brewers manager Craig Counsell finished in second place followed by the Rockies’ Bud Black, the Cardinals’ Mike Shildt, the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers.

The Braves named Snitker the interim manager on May 17, 2016 after firing Fredi González. The organization went into a rebuilding mode and wasn’t expected to seriously compete in 2018, but a breakout season from NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuña Jr. and Mike Foltynewicz, as well as great seasons from Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, Arodys Vizcaino, and Aníbal Sánchez — among others — helped the Braves challenge in the NL East ahead of schedule.

Last month, we learned that Snitker almost quit his job with the Braves due to a sour relationship with former GM John Coppolella. Coppolella later resigned as a result of his role in violating international signing rules. Freeman and current GM Alex Anthopoulos went on record giving Snitker a huge vote of confidence.

Melvin, 57, is now a three-time Manager of the Year Award winner, having previously won in 2007 with the Diamondbacks and in 2012 with the A’s. In 2018, he saw a 22-win turnaround. Unfortunately for the A’s, their 97-win season wasn’t good enough while playing in the same division as the Astros, who won 103 games.

Melvin received 18 of 30 first-place votes. Red Sox manager Alex Cora finished in second place, followed by Kevin Cash of the Rays, A.J. Hinch of the Astros, and Aaron Boone of the Yankees.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.