On Tuesday, Major League Baseball will announce the Manager of the Year award winners for both leagues. In the American League, Boston’s John Farrell, Cleveland’s Terry Francona, and Oakland’s Bob Melvin are the nominees. All three managers led their teams to the playoffs, with the A’s and Red Sox winning their divisions.
John Farrell led a revamped but very talented Boston Red Sox team to an unexpected resurgence to the top of the American League’s East division. The Red Sox went from worst to first, which is always an impressive feat.
The Red Sox had cleaned house after finishing 69-93 under skipper Bobby Valentine. Gone from the lineup were Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Kevin Youkilis. Gone from the rotation were Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Enter Mike Napoli, Johnny Gomes, Shane Victorino, and a whole new bullpen. And enter John Farrell.
The results were impressive, as the Red Sox won 97 games, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for best record in the majors. That they went on to win the World Series won’t matter in the Manager of the Year voting, as the ballots are cast at the end of the regular season.
Terry Francona is another former Red Sox manager who led the Cleveland Indians to a 92 win season, good for a wild card playoff berth and finishing within one game of the Tigers for first place in the American League’s Central division. Okay, the division race was not as close as it appears in the rear view mirror, but the Tribe’s finish was impressive nonetheless.
After contending for much of the 2012 season, Cleveland sunk to a 68-94 record for a finish, 20 games out of first place and low enough to land one of the top ten draft picks, which were protected from being taken as compensation for signing free agents. They added Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, as well as Francona. The 29 game improvement from one season to the next was second only to Boston.
Bob Melvin led the Oakland A’s to their second straight AL West division title. Even after surprising the higher spending and more favored Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers in 2012, most forecasts had the A’s in third place at the beginning of the season. Instead, they followed up a 94 win season with 96 victories in 2013, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Rangers, and 18 games ahead of the Angels.
Melvin’s A’s won with a payroll of under $62 million, or less than half that of their two main division rivals. No Oakland player earns an eight figure salary, and they seemingly have new rookies in the rotation every year, yet they keep on winning, and the experts keep on underestimating them.
Who do you think deserves to be the American League Manager of the Year?
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