I imagine that the members of the BBWAA, an abbreviation that only baseball writers could come up with, are about as well equipped to handle voting for the best manager in baseball as toddlers are to vote in elections.
That’s no slight against them. The success and failures of a baseball team are just so dependent on so many factors that to pick one, that’s likely one of the smallest, and attempt to judge it is simply beyond reason.
There is no discernible metric to measure a manager’s influence on a team, and it’s impossible that the writers on the baseball beat in each city could follow each decision that a manager makes throughout the season. Topping off all of this is the fact that baseball is a cruel sport. Even when all the right decisions are made, when all of the percentages are played correctly, when all of the matchups have enough sample sizes to give accurate predictors, the baseball gods can still deliver an Omar Infante “seeing eye” single through the infield. Such is the game we all love.
Nevertheless, baseball writers voted Minnesota Twins’ Ron Gardenhire and the San Diego Padres Bud Black to be above and beyond their peers this season. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about either manager and I’m sure that they both worked hard in support of their team.
The AL votes were dolled out like this:
|Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins||16||8||4||108|
|Ron Washington, Texas Rangers||10||8||7||81|
|Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays||1||10||9||44|
|Terry Francona, Boston Red Sox||2||7||13|
|Cito Gaston, Toronto Blue Jays||1||5|
|Joe Girardi, New York Yankees||1||1|
I didn’t see nearly enough of anyone who received votes, other than Cito Gaston, to make any judgment calls on anyone’s decision making abilities.
As for Gaston, the only excuse he has for some of his decisions this past season in both lineup construction and bullpen management would be his own senility. I know that the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays played much better than expected, but I don’t think it’s an overstatement to suggest that Gaston cost this team five wins directly through awful decision making in late innings.
That’s completely observational, and there’s no telling how many games his team won because Gaston gave Jose Bautista an everyday role in the lineup, but receiving a first place vote for managerial excellence is less deserved than American Beauty’s 1999 Best Picture Oscar.
The NL votes were spread out like this:
|Bud Black, San Diego Padres||16||7||3||104|
|Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds||13||12||2||103|
|Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants||1||4||13||30|
|Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves||1||4||11||28|
|Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia Phillies||1||4||3||20|
|Brad Mills, Houston Astros||1||3|
Dusty Baker, really?