MLB Managers of the Year Announced; Shouldn't Postseason Matter?

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↵The MLB cavalcade of awards continued today with the announcement of the AL and NL Manager of the Year. Jim Tracy won the National League Manager of the Year award after taking the reins of the Colorado Rockies 46 games into the season and turning a team in turmoil into a contender. Tracy was rewarded for turning around a Rockies team that seemed lost under former manager Clint Hurdle, yet under Tracy's leadership, the Rockies won the NL wild card, nearly catching the Dodgers en route to a first-round exit in the playoffs at the hand of the NL champion Phillies. ↵

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↵On the American League side, Mike Scioscia took home the award for the second time in his career, previously winning in 2002. Scioscia, too, took his team to the playoffs, sweeping the Red Sox in the first round before losing to the Yankees in the LCS in six games. ↵

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↵Both picks seemed rather obvious this season, despite the fact that neither manager led their teams to the best record in their respective leagues. Sure, Tracy won the award because of the wake-up call his hiring – as well as Hurdle's firing – gave a team that was 14 games under .500 in 2008, and 18-28 when he took over in 2009, after getting to the World Series just two years ago. Tracy revamped the lineup, put egos aside and found a mix of players that got the Rockies back to the postseason. ↵

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↵Scioscia undoubtedly won as much for keeping his team focused and together after the death of Nick Adenhart as for any success his team had in the win column. Filling out a lineup card – especially in the American League – is nothing compared to managing a clubhouse that is suddenly forced to deal with real life. What Scioscia, and undoubtedly his coaching staff and front office, did in handling the Adenhart tragedy is real managing. ↵

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↵So, then, it shouldn't be lost on people what Charlie Manuel had to deal with this year, not only managing a team with a giant World Championship shaped target on its back all season, but doing so after the early-season loss of long-time broadcaster Harry Kalas. To say that HK wasn't as much a part of that team as any player in the clubhouse is to not know a thing about Harry, or the Phillies. In no way was what Manuel faced as difficult as Scioscia, having to deal with a death far more unexpected to someone generations younger, all while figuring out a viable option to replace the rookie pitcher in the rotation. But Charlie's handling of life shouldn't be lost in the discussion either. ↵

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↵And why, exactly, is the Manager of the Year a regular season award? The case for player awards is obvious – there are statistical comparisons that cannot be made for individual player awards if some stats are compiled in the playoffs. In addition, the rest of the team clearly impacts a star player's ability to get to the postseason. But manager? Getting to the playoffs is part of the deal when you sign up. Win. Get your team to the playoffs and win. ↵

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↵Why then, wouldn't Joe Girardi win Manager of the Year? Nobody had a bigger cloud hanging over his head than Girardi this season. With 103 wins, the expectations in the postseason got even bigger for the Yankee skipper. Nothing less than a championship would have been acceptable for the Yankees, and perhaps for Girardi to keep his job. Yet he still managed to manage his way to a title. ↵

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↵Sure, you can make the case that both Manuel and Girardi were winning games with superior talent, but it's not like the cupboards were bare for the Rockies or the Angels. In fact, the Angels had a higher payroll than all but five clubs. And if you want to give the award to the manager who did the most with the least, you'd have to factor in Fredi Gonzalez leading the Marlins to an 87-75 record with the lowest payroll in baseball. Not to be outdone is the job Ron Gardenhire did with the Twins, coming from way back in the AL Central with one of the lowest payrolls in the league – and losing key players like Justin Morneau along the way – to pass the Tigers and make the playoffs. ↵

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↵Both Tracy and Scioscia are fine choices, but you have to wonder if the award is given to Manager of the Year, why the entire year, playoffs included, shouldn't factor in. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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