We’re in the midst of a two-day stretch that will grant us six playoff games. Times are good. Except if you’re Brad Ausmus, in which case times are handsome, if not great. The Orioles managed to win despite home runs from the Tigers 3-4-5 hitters and 7+ innings from Scherzer, which has to be concerning for the Tigers. Not only that but Baltimore piled on Detroit’s beleaguered bullpen, meaning Justin Verlander really has to go deep in tomorrow’s game, something that’s a lot less assured than it used to be.
Some might consider it odd to say that a rookie manager who won his division has had a rough year, but that’s a fair assessment of Ausmus. He’s looked overmatched in big spots, especially in terms of handling the bullpen. It’s also fair to say that this is a reasonable assessment of most of the managers in baseball, as being a good clubhouse guy/leader of men, and a good on-field tactician don’t seem to go hand in hand. It’s clear that it does for a select few, though, as Terry Francona, Joe Maddon and Buck Showalter have all shown an aptitude for it, and Girardi is probably on the periphery of this group.
If you haven’t guessed, we’re discussing the AL Manager of the year today, in that one of the best in the business (Showalter) is facing off with one who has yet to prove himself (Ausmus). There’s also that whole longest tenured coach in MLB (Scioscia) squaring off against Ned Yost, who needs no introduction and is a category unto himself.
Despite a mere 15 teams in the league, 16 managers have earned votes thanks to Ron Washington’s resignation, and Tim Bogar’s ascension. Don’t ask me how or why Tim Bogar landed on three different ballots, but that’s where we stand. He even got more votes than Ron Washington. That means every coach in the AL landed on at least one ballot, with Robin Ventura’s lone third place vote bringing up the rear.
Ron Gardenhire didn’t do enough to save his job, but one voter determined he was the best manager in the AL this year. Bo Porter received votes, probably due to the backlash to the backlash of support that the Astros receive for being new and different or whatever it is people seem to think they are.
The man running away with the award is Buck Showalter, and Thursday was a solid example of why. With his starter faltering early in the game, he didn’t hesitate to go to his premium relievers (Andrew Miller, Darren O’Day). Not only did he go to them early, in high leverage situations, but he asked both to extend themselves beyond their standard inning pitched. Showalter also opted for closer Zach Britton in the 8th inning, in relief of O’Day, who wasn’t at his sharpest. Britton likely would have been asked to get four outs, had the Orioles not plated eight runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Showalters 1,111 points and 200 first place votes dwarf Scioscia 395 points and 21 first place votes. Lloyd McClendon rounds out the top three, as his Mariners were something of a surprise, and narrowly missed the post-season. Miraculously, the man with the third most first place votes is Ned Yost, with 10, though based on points he’s in sixth place. It’s easy to mock this because Yost is so wanting, tactically, but it’s important to remember that a significant portion of a manager’s job is not about what they do on the field. If Yost (or anyone else) is effective at those portions of the job, they needn’t be mocked for receiving votes or credit.
Speaking of votes and credit, here’s your reminder that these are not static results. You can influence them if you disagree with what’s shown below or discussed above. To do so, vote here.
AL Manager of the Year
AL Player of the Year
AL Pitcher of the Year
AL Rookie of the Year
NL Player of the Year
NL Pitcher of the Year
NL Rookie of the Year
NL Manager of the Year