Arguing over the best manager in any given year is even more futile than the other awards that the Baseball Writers Association of America hand out at the end of the season. There’s an element of subjectivity in any opinion on what makes one player better than another, but at least those opinions can be backed up by statistics and reason.
Recognizing a manager’s contribution has no such metric on which to base an opinion on. Sure, you can say that the best team in baseball has the best manager because they collected the most wins, but you can also say that the sun and moon kill people because people around the world die every day both when the sun is out and when the moon is out.
It’s a funny correlation, but more often than not, it ends up that good managers have good players. And because baseball is a game in which getting out, or failing three fifths of the time is an extraordinary accomplishment, a manager’s sole responsibility is to put his players in the best position to succeed. And so, you could probably do worse than handing out the best manager awards to Kirk Gibson of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays for their efforts in 2011.
The National League
Gibson’s Diamondbacks played well over their heads in the National League West, accumulating a 94-68 record and winning the division title. It’s an entire turn around from their 2010 season when a player revolt led to the dismissal of A.J. Hinch and the hiring of Gibson, whose no nonsense approach appears to have inspired at least some positive results.
|Kirk Gibson, Arizona Diamondbacks||28||4||152|
|Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee Brewers||3||25||2||92|
|Tony La Russa, St. Louis Cardinals||1||2||13||24|
|Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia Phillies||1||7||10|
|Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves||4||4|
|Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants||2||2|
|Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates||2||2|
|Terry Collins, New York Mets||1||1|
|Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers||1||1|
Yes, that would be managerial disasterpiece Fredi Gonzalez of the September collapsing Atlanta Braves finishing with four third place votes from someone who I assume doesn’t watch a whole lot of TBS.
The American League
Maddon is just plain awesome. He may be the only manager in baseball who is so completely unconcerned with his own reputation as to try innovative approaches from a position that’s normally reserved for so called tested and true methods regardless of the risks of looking foolish.
From 2010, his Rays lost Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza Rafael Soriano, Joaquin Benoit, Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour, Randy Choate and Chad Qualls (i.e. their entire bullpen). Then after starting the season 0-6, and suffering through the Manny Ramirez debacle, they came back to win the American League Wild Card on the last day of the regular season, finishing with a 91-61 record, second in the AL East to the New York Yankees.
|Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays||26||1||133|
|Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers||1||13||10||54|
|Ron Washington, Texas Rangers||1||7||5||31|
|Manny Acta, Cleveland Indians||3||7||16|
|Joe Girardi, New York Yankees||3||5||14|
|Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||1||1||4|
I assume the second and third place votes for Mike Scioscia are for all of his work in turning Mike Napoli into the player that he is today.
There you have it. Managers of the year. Woohoo!