Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we will be voting over the coming weeks on our award winners for the regular season. First up on the voting docket is the American League’s manager of the Year, the Connie Mack Award winner.
When I started to look at the manager of the year for the AL, there really were only 4 candidates who came to mind as having very good years this season. These are in order from east to west (approximately), and I will have my final vote at the bottom.
Joe Girardi (NYY)
Yes, they have continued to spend more money than any other team in the history of sports practically for their talent. But when I look at the team as it stands now, I find it really interesting that the Yankees have done so well. There is pretty clearly a large problem in the pitching rotation, with both A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez struggling mightily this year. C. C. Sabathia has had a great season, but the team has also had injuries to key players during the season (Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte), as well as under performing players to adjust for (Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira).
Joe Maddon (TAM)
This was a team that seemed to be widely thought to be the 3rd best in their division, and has pretty much been at the top of the AL East’s standings from the word go. The team has been lead by their solid pitching staff, and Maddon has continued to plug in the pieces the team needs around All-Stars Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford.
Ron Gardenhire (MIN)
The expectations coming into this season were high, as the team was fresh off of locking up its brightest star (Mauer), and moving into its brand new downtown stadium. For the first time in 3 years, the team clinched the division title before the end of the season, and was actually the first to do so. Gardenhire has done this in spite of being without one or both of his former MVPs (Mauer, Morneau) since mid July. Throw in that he’s done this with a patchwork of starting pitchers behind Francisco Liriano, and the job looks even better.
Ron Washington (TEX)
He seems to be the complete surprise of the whole season for managers, as there was concern prior to the season that he would be fired due to issues involving drugs. The team was widely expected to do very little this year, and behind MVP candidate Josh Hamilton and recently converted starting pitcher C.J. Wilson the team outperformed expectations early on. Despite the distraction that the change in ownership of the team became, the team continued their excellent performance, enough so that the team went out and acquired a bona fide ace in Cliff Lee. Despite a weak division, the Rangers won it going away.
For me, it came down to the expectation of performance, or lack there of in this particular manager’s case. No one expected the Rangers to do anything but finish out the stretch, and their skipper helped to lead them to the playoffs this season.
- Ron Washington (TEX)
- Ron Gardenhire (MIN)
- Joe Maddon (TAM)