November 12, 2013
Internet Baseball Awards
AL Top Manager
Generally speaking, managers who lead teams that outperform their preseason forecasts are the frontrunners for Manager of the Year. This season was no different. After the debacle that was the Red Sox’s 2012 season, few analysts were bold enough to predict a 2013 World Series title for what seemed to be a reeling team. A year later, the Red Sox are on top of the baseball world, and so is John Farrell, who has capped his team’s unlikely run by winning the Internet Baseball Award for American League Top Manager.
Farrell arrived in Boston last fall after two seasons at the helm of the Toronto Blue Jays. His record in Toronto was an unspectacular 154-170, but that seemed to matter little once Farrell donned a Red Sox uniform: his team began the 2013 season on a tear, going 18-8 in the month of April. Despite stumbling a bit in May, Farrell’s club sustained their success over the entire season, posting a 97-65 record that tied the St. Louis Cardinals’ for best in the majors.
Farrell did earn his fair share of detractors in the playoffs, preferring to play Jonny Gomes over Daniel Nava against right-handed pitchers despite the fact that Nava had better numbers against them. His decisions in Game Three of the World Series drew some ire, as well: Farrell lifted Jake Peavy after just four innings of work, and elected to let Brandon Workman hit in the bottom of the ninth inning instead of sending Mike Napoli to the plate as a pinch-hitter. For the most part, though, Farrell’s managing was effective. His liberal usage of Koji Uehara, who allowed one earned run in 13⅓ postseason innings, was crucial in preserving Boston’s late-inning leads. Farrell also committed to starting Xander Bogaerts over Will Middlebrooks at third base during the World Series, injecting extra offense into the lineup while also shoring up the team’s defense. With these decisions and help from a strong pitching staff, key role players, and the otherworldly David Ortiz, Farrell led the Red Sox to an 11-5 postseason record and the eighth World Series title in club history.
Even though the Red Sox just completed one of the most extreme worst-to-first turnarounds in baseball history, Farrell received only 41 more first-place votes than the runner-up, Terry Francona. Francona also oversaw a reversal of fortunes, leading a fourth-place Indians team in 2012 to the this year’s playoff berth, the organization’s first in six years. Unfortunately for the Indians, Tampa Bay proved too much to overcome in the Wild Card play-in game. But after helping to bring competitive baseball back to Cleveland after several years of mediocrity, it’s no surprise that Francona hung with Farrell in the polls.
The balance of the votes were scattered across the rest of the league’s managing corps, with Joe Maddon, Bob Melvin, and Joe Girardi leading the rest of the pack in total points. In fact, for the second year in a row, only one manager was left off the ballot entirely. Unfortunately for that manager, he was left off of last year’s ballot, too.
With the usual biting winter fast approaching in Minnesota, Ron Gardenhire just can’t catch a break.
You can view the full IBA AL Top Manager voting results here.