Choosing the Manager of the Year in the National League was a slam dunk – consideration starts and ends with Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hurdle was one of the big reasons why the Bucs improved from 79 wins in 2012 to an impressive 94 wins this season and their first winning record since 1992. Their 94 wins is even more astounding when you consider that the Pirates had the 5th lowest payroll in baseball.
The Washington Nationals were the clear favourites in the NL East heading into the season, but they finished a full 10 games behind the surprising Atlanta Braves. Fredi Gonzalez deserves a good amount of the credit for the Bravos' reappearance in the postseason, especially considering the number of injuries that he has had to deal with this year. Gonzalez did a masterful job of juggling his lineup and selecting the right players to plug the numerous holes.
The St. Louis Cardinals surprised few by winning the NL Central title once again, but their path to victory wasn’t exactly free from obstacles. Mike Matheny had to deal with losing his closer, setup man and two starters for the remainder of the season by the end of May. The losses proved to be no problem at all, as Matheny calmly led the Cardinals to an NL-best 97 wins.
Accordingly, my National League ballot is:
- Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves
- Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals
Bob Melvin may have won the AL Manager of the Year Award in 2012, but he still deserves serious consideration for this year’s award. All he did was take a team with a paltry $60 million payroll and lead them to a 96-win season and the AL West title. Since the BBWAA has only given the award to the same manager in consecutive years once (Bobby Cox in 2004 and 2005), it's unlikely that Melvin will come out on top in either the Baseball Bloggers Alliance or BBWAA voting this year.
The trendy pick by many is John Farrell of the Boston Red Sox, but I'm not one to blindly follow trends. Sure, the BoSox had the best record in the American League, but they also featured a $150 million payroll. Boston’s AL East title in 2013 only proves just how bad of a manager Bobby Valentine is, and that's not enough to warrant the AL Manager of the Year award for John Farrell.
My AL ballot is therefore:
- Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
- Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
- John Farrell, Boston Red Sox