The 2011 regular season has come to a close, and as a member of the Baseball Blogger Alliance Toronto Chapter, I have the honour/responsibility of casting votes in 2 post season award categories. For the purpose of this blog I will lay out my selection for the Connie Mack (Best Manager) award. My other vote will be cast in tomorrow’s blog.
Wikipedia defines the baseball manager as an individual who is responsible for matters of team strategy on the field. Also, the manager is a babysitter for star players with big egos, and the team disciplinarian. He is the guy that is blamed when the team falters and gets very little praise when the team does well (praise of course is reserved for the players).
Because the Toronto chapter is of course representing an American League team, my ranked votes will be for AL Managers. For the purpose of this blog however, I will also hand out honourable mentions to 3 National League managers as well. Without further ado, here is the run down with my final vote ranking to follow at the end.
Gibson, Kirk (AZ) – The Diamondbacks entered their 2nd season under Gibson coming off back to back 90 loss seasons. Many pre-season polls had the snakes finishing last again this season. Arizona surprised everyone though by posting a 94-68 record to win the NL West for the first time since 2007, their shocking success attributed to Gibson’s managerial style.
Hurdle, Clint (PIT) – Even though the Pirates ended up a disappointing 72-90, they gave their fans some excitement for the first time in years. The team that hasn’t had a winning season since 1992, got their first sniff of contention since they finished 2nd in 1997 as they were within a game and a half of first place and over .500 at the trade deadline. No doubt their unexpected run to the deadline is due in part to the new attitude instilled by first year manager Hurdle.
Manuel, Charlie (PHI) – At 102-60 the Phillies put aside their 2010 let down in the NLCS and rolled through the 2011 regular season. Manuel led the team through 162 games without any real problems. The team had to play 33 games in 31 days due to Hurricane Irene, and at 42 games over .500 they finished with a franchise record 102 wins. With their last win on September 28th over the Braves, Manuel became the winningest manager in Phillies history.
American League Manager Of The Year
Girardi, Joe (NYY) – At 97-65 the Yankees finished with the best record in the American League, and 2nd overall in the MLB behind the Phillies. Girardi leads the team to it’s 3rd straight playoff appearance following pre-season speculation that the team was getting too old and wouldn’t contend this year.
Maddon, Joe (TB) – After losing in the ALDS to Texas in 2010 the Rays went through wholesale roster changes. Gone were Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Randy Choate, Jason Bartlett, Dan Wheeler Rafael Soriano, and Matt Garza. Nobody gave the Rays much of a chance this year, with most prognosticators picking them to finish a distant 3rd behind the Red Sox and Yankees. Despite the major losses to his roster, Maddon led the Rays to a 91-71 record including overcoming a 9 game deficit on September 3rd to win the AL wildcard.
Washington, Ron (TEX) – The Rangers won the ALCS in 2010 only to fall to the Giants in the world series. After heavily trying to re-sign free agent Cliff Lee they eventually lost him to the Phillies. Washington had to manage the team through controversy when star Michael Young asked for a trade and continued to demand it throughout the spring. Expectations were that the Rangers would finish below the Angels, who had put together what was on paper the best outfield in the major leagues, but nobody could touch them. The Washington lead Rangers finished 10 games up on the 2nd place Angels and clinching the division on September 23.
- Joe Maddon
- Ron Washington
- Joe Girardi