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2017 BBWAA Awards: Manager of the Year

When we vote for a manager of the year, what are we voting for? The guy from the best team? The guy from the team we all thought was going to suck and ended up winning the second wild card? The guy you’d like to have a beer with? How do you judge the best manager?

This award doesn’t make any sense.

2017 BBWAA Awards: Manager of the Year


Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

When we vote for a manager of the year, what are we voting for? The guy from the best team? The guy from the team we all thought was going to suck and ended up winning the second wild card? The guy you’d like to have a beer with? How do you judge the best manager?

This award doesn’t make any sense.

In 1983, the first MOY awards were given to Tony LaRussa (White Sox) and Tommy Lasorda (Dodgers), who both managed the team that lost the LCS that season (to the Orioles and Phillies, respectively). The following year, the AL award went to Sparky Anderson, who managed the Tigers to a 35-5 start and a World Championship. Since Sparky, seven MOY winners have won the World Series. Seven. Out of sixty-eight. Eleven managers won for a team that didn’t even make the playoffs. Eleven. If you’re scoring at home, the MOY has not made the playoffs more often than he has won the World Series.

The American League nominees this year are Terry Francona (Indians), A.J. Hinch (Astros), and Paul Molitor (Twins). Molitor is going to win, but the vote is going to be more lopsided than it should be. Yes, Molitor led a 59-win team in 2016 to the playoffs in 2017, but did you see what the Astros were up to in 2017? They had a pretty good year. How much of this was because of Hinch? I don’t know. This award doesn’t make any sense. But I do know that getting your team out to a monstrous lead in the standings early in the going comes in handy when your star shortstop goes down, and when Carlos Correa — by far the best shortstop in baseball, in my opinion — went down with a torn thumb ligament, the Astros didn’t lose a step. So … bully for Hinch. Here’s the real shame: this vote was cast before the playoffs began, which is a practice I think needs to change (for all awards). If Hinch’s postseason heroics — 11-7 record, not bad for a guy who sits on the bench — had been taken into consideration, the vote would have been a nail biter.

Not that Molitor doesn’t deserve it as well. How the hell did Minnesota make the playoffs?

The National League nominees are Bud Black (Rockies), Torey Lovullo (Diamondbacks), and Dave Roberts (Dodgers). In other words, the managers of the three teams who, as recently as June 2, were all within a half-game of each other in the NL West.

Roberts won last year, and the only manager to win two of these awards in a row was Bobby Cox, who weirdly won them in the last two seasons of Atlanta’s 14-year dominance over the NL East (2004/2005). He hadn’t won it since the first year of that run (1991), so I guess it was one of those “your turn” kind of awards, like Al Pacino’s Oscar for Scent of a Woman. Except twice. In both seasons the Braves were eliminated by the Astros in the NLDS.

I’ve lost my train of thought.

Oh, right! Roberts isn’t winning. That leaves Lovullo and Black, whose teams were tied for first on June 1 (yes, the Dodgers were in third place, a half-game behind). On June 1, they were tied; on October 1, the Diamondbacks were six games ahead. So I guess Lovullo will get it. You know, because he managed better. Also, Black won it in 2010 while helming a Padres team that blew a division lead in September and didn’t make the playoffs.

This award doesn’t make any sense.

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