Here is the first of my ballots for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance – the Connie Mack Award for best manager.
For the award, I first eliminated managers who didn’t manage for a full season. I do that for 2 reasons: first, if you are fired, you don’t really deserve the award. Secondly, if you are hired mid-season, you are typically in a bad situation (see Seattle and Baltimore).
The next thing I look at is pre-season expectations. If a team was expected to compete and didn’t, the manager shouldn’t be considered. For example, Seattle was the odds on favorite to win the West and we’ve seen how that’s turned out.
So, without further ado, the AL Connie Mack Award ballot…
1. Ron Washington
2. Ron Gardenhire
3. Cito Gasten
Washington was a no doubter in my mind. The Mariners were the pre-season favorites and the Angels always get the exposure in the West, so the Rangers were able to surprise some people. They’ve had some of their best pitching in years and Washington did well with his players.
Gardenhire took a somewhat weak team in Minnesota and got the most out of them. Their fielders played well, even after losing Justin Morneau. Not many managers can get away with playing Nick Punto almost daily.
Gasten has to get some consideration as everyone considered the Blue Jays as one of the worst teams in baseball before the season. Instead, they finished with a winning record and would have been in the playoff hunt in another division; instead they finished 4th.
And my NL ballot…
1. Bobby Cox
2. Bud Black
3. Dusty Baker
Maybe I’m giving this to Cox for past achievements, or maybe he truely deserves it. There were plenty of questions with this team and most didn’t consider them a contender in spring training. Instead, he led this team to a post-season birth.
Black was much like Gasten, only he had his team in contention until the last week. Even with the meltdown, no one expected that San Diego had a shot at .500, let alone leading the division going into the last month of the season.
Baker did something that has been hard in the last decade – knocked the Cardinals off the division lead. He kept the young guys focused and the old guys healthy. He even kept most of his pitchers from getting hurt and over-exposed. Dusty has led 3 different teams to the post-season in the last 10 years, which is quite a feat.