One month from today, Major League Baseball will announce its Managers of the Year. Will the rookie skipper for the Twins, Rocco Baldelli, be one of the two names that gets called?
Here’s a quick look at the competition. (Note: We don’t have a vote in the race but we are quite fond of reckless speculation at SKOR North.)
Hinch gave a post-clinching speech in the Astros clubhouse once the club had secured its bid to the postseason by way of winning the AL West. He made mention of the fact that the Astros succeeded in the face of lofty expectation. Everybody expected them to be the best team in baseball, he said, and the club proved those people right. Some will dock him points because they think that they could have managed a postseason berth out of that Houston lineup and pitching staff anchored by two Cy Young candidates. I don’t know. I think Hinch is a great manager and there’s something to be said for holding the best record in baseball. It’s surprising that he hasn’t won the award yet.
Just looking over the recent history of the award in the American League, it feels a little bit like teams that we expected to be good are never given credit for actually being good. Meanwhile teams with lower budgets or who are not annual postseason participants are given an added boost. A’s, Twins, Indians, Rangers, Orioles and Rays are well represented over the past decade. So does Boone get disqualified because the Yankees are rich and everybody expected them to be awesome? I don’t know, I feel like the amount of injuries the club overcame to win their division should make Boone a strong candidate, if not the favorite. Bonus points for getting in the head of every home plate umpire with his tirade that went viral: ‘I feel bad for you; tighten it up!’
Rocco should have a strong case given the simple and stunning truth about the Twins’ turnaround. From a sub-.500 club to 101 wins. Multiple breakout players on his roster, the best bullpen we’ve seen for a while in Minnesota over the final two months of the season. Never too high, certainly never too low. Baldelli is also credited with something far more subtle. The culture in the baseball arm of the business is viewed as a strong positive for the organization right now, and so too is the flow of information from the front office and researchers to the players putting the work into practice.
That sounds like a lot of buzzwords, granted. But having been around it this season two things are clear: 1) Communication and ‘culture’ are things that Baldelli puts a lot of his energy into each day; and 2) They are extreme positives for the organization.
Does winning it last year disqualify Melvin from consideration? The A’s really snuck up on people last season, and somehow it feels again like they overachieved this season. They have a great deal of talent and people continue to ignore them nationally. And still, for guiding the group through the choppy waters of an AL Wild Card race while sharing a division with the Astros is worthy of recognition.
One of Baldelli’s mentors, Cash, may have edged out another, Terry Francona, for consideration on this particular write-up. After Cash managed the Rays to 96 wins using their unique formula, he also drove the Astros to an elimination and gave them all they could take. Gerrit Cole and Co. put an end to that run but it doesn’t make Tampa Bay’s regular season any less remarkable to me. For Tito, it’s difficult to imagine him getting consideration after missing the playoffs, although he did run a team that overcame just about every obstacle imaginable to contend up until the end of September.
2018 – Bob Melvin
2017 – Paul Molitor
2016 – Terry Francona
2015 – Jeff Banister
2014 – Buck Showalter
2013 – Terry Francona
2012 – Bob Melvin
2011 – Joe Maddon
2010 – Ron Gardenhire