The six Manager of the Year Award finalists, three from each league, were announced last Monday. One winner from both the National and American League will be presented with the award tonight at 6 p.m. ET.
The Colorado Rockies had a very good season behind manager Bud Black. They went 91-72 and missed out on the NL West title by just one game. That record was good enough to land them a spot in the Wild Card game for the second straight season though.
After defeating the Cubs, they advanced to the NLDS. There, they were swept by the Brewers and knocked out of the postseason. Nonetheless, their 91 wins was their highest mark since 2009.
Clearly, having three All-Stars, one being MVP Award finalist Nolan Arenado, was a big part of the Rox success this past year. However, while the players were in and out of the lineup with injury, the one constant was Black.
Bud won the Manager of the Year Award once previously in 2010 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Craig Counsell just finished up his third full season as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. This season the Brewers won the National League Central behind a 96-67 record and a game 163 win over the Cubs.
In the postseason, Milwaukee swept the Rockies in the NLDS. They then took on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Championship Series, where they were eliminated in seven games.
This was Counsell’s first NL Central title and his first trip to the postseason as a manager. He took a very good roster, led by MVP candidate Christian Yelich, and led them to the highest win total in franchise history, tying the 2011 club.
The Atlanta Braves turned out to be a year ahead of schedule on their rebuild. Their young team wasn’t supposed to be really competitive for at least one more season, but Brian Snitker led them to a 90-72 record and an NL East title.
This was the Braves first postseason birth since 2013. Despite the median age on the team is just 26, Snitker had a very successful season in just his third year as manager of the Braves. They beat out both the Phillies and the Nationals in the East and unfortunately ran into a hot defending NL Champion Dodgers team in the postseason.
It seems odd that the manager of a team that finished the season 18 games out of first place would be a finalist for Manager of the Year. However, that’s exactly the case with Tampa Bay Rays skipper Kevin Cash.
Cash led the Rays to 90 wins, just one year removed from the team only winning 80 games. Unfortunately for him, he was in the same division as two 100 win teams, one being the World Champion Boston Red Sox. Despite not making the playoffs and finishing so far out in the division, Cash’s fourth season at the helm in Tampa Bay was a very successful one.
The Oakland Athletics were one of the biggest surprises to come out of the American League this year. They won 97 games on their way to the AL Wild Card game. Unfortunately, they fell to the Yankees in the game, but it was still a very good season for the A’s.
Manager Bob Melvin is largely responsible for their success. Melvin led a roster with the 29th lowest payroll to second place in the AL West, their first playoff birth since 2014 and their best record since 2002.
Melvin is hoping to win his third Manager of the Year Award. He has won one in both leagues, taking the award in 2007 with the D-Backs and in 2012 with the A’s.
In his first ever season as manager, Alex Cora led one of the best teams ever to one of the best seasons ever. Cora’s Red Sox won an incredible 108 games, taking the AL East division by eight games. Then, in the playoffs, the Sox defeated two 100 win teams on their way to winning the World Series over the Dodgers in five games
It might seem like an easy task to win the Championship with a star-studded roster like the one Boston had this past season. Though it does help, a roster full of All-Stars can provide challenges as well, with egos and big contracts to worry about. Cora handled the team almost flawlessly though, en route to possibly the best season many of us will ever witness.
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