The Manager of the Year award is the most subjective major award for Major League Baseball. There are no definitive stats to judge a manager. There are no times fired up the team (FUTT) stat, or baseball knowledge to game moves (BK/GM) ratio. What we have is record, which largely depends upon the talent of the team, and our own eyes, what worked and what didn't work. Sentimentality can also be a factor as in the case of Bobby Cox who is in his final managerial season.
I've tried to take an objective approach to my evaluation of each manager, it's by no means perfect, but it includes some of the things I feel should be considered. I looked at record, the Pythagorean difference of the record, injuries the managers had to deal with and head to head match-up against the other Manager of the Year candidates. The head to head match-ups do include Brad Mills, who will be discussed this afternoon. All the pythagorean with the exception of Mills positive eight games were all within one or two games.
Pythagorean estimates a team's expected winning percentage by the runs score and allowed. As far as injuries go I only counted them if it involved a trip to the 15-day or 60-day disabled list.
Follow the jump for a look at the Manager of the Year candidates.
With quite possibly the best team in the National League, Manuel guided his Phillies to the best record in the National League. He actually had a positive effect on that record though, if you account for the Pythagorean difference which was a positive two games. He also dealt with the most injuries out of all the managers we'll discuss, with twenty trips to the DL for several of his players. The most amazing thing about that is with the exception of Jayson Werth and Rual Ibanez, all the starting position players at one time or another spent some time on the disabled list. The pitching staff didn't fare much better with Brad Lidge, Ryan Madison, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ and Jamie Moyer all spending some time on the DL. The fact that Manuel was able to navigate through all these injuries and still post the best record in the Major Leagues is absolutely mind boggling. He also had the best head to head record against the other Manager of the Year candidates with a 26-19 record. The fact that he didn't get more attention for Manager of the Year is amazing.
On the other hand Bud Black has gotten quite a bit of attention for the Manager of the Year, and it is warranted. He guided a team that went 75-87 last year to a 90-72 record, and very nearly made the playoffs. Unlike Manuel, Black had far from the most talented team. The pitching staff was the strength of the team, but the rotation lacked a true ace, and the bullpen's dominance and the defenses improvement are what really helped the Padres very nearly grab a playoff spot. As for injuries Black was behind only Manuel in dealing with eighteen trips to the disabled list. I would make the argument though that replacing the production from the Padres players was easier than replacing those from the Phillies players. Still Black held his own and had a smaller margin of error to deal with than Manuel. While everyone was practically handing a playoff spot to the Phillies, to begin the year, they were also trying to decide whether the Padres or Giants would finish last in the division. Head to head Black had the second best record with a 25-19 record against the other teams. Unlikely Manuel, he has gotten quite a bit of play in the media for the Manager of the Year award, and deservedly so. I can't find fault if he were selected to win the award.
Ah yes the sentimental pick Cox, in his final year, has guided the Braves back to the October playoffs, a month
they've been taking off since 2005. His 24-18 record against the other teams holds up well, and he has had to deal with seventeen injuries this year. This team has had quite a bit of turnover through out the season. Aside from Rookie of the Year candidate Jayson Heyward, and All-Star Brian McCann, this lineup is not going to scare anyone. They do have two nice players in first time All-Stars Martin Prado and Omar Infante, but they're not in the habit of scaring any pitchers off the mound. They've traded Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez, and the outfield has been maned by Nate McClouth, Melky Cabrera, Matt Diaz , Eric Hinske, and now features Rick Ankiel as the starting centerfielder. The rotation on the other hand is solid, but you have to give credit to a Bobby Cox team that had to battle the Phillies within their own division, with that lineup. Against Philly the Braves were 8-10, so they held their own.
Back to the NL West where we have the manager that did win the division but get's literally no love for the Manager of the Year award. The Giants finished with a 92-70 winning the NL West and avoiding an Armageddon like ending to the season in which one team would of had to of played a chaotic four games in four different cities heading into the playoffs. They got their on the strength of a pitching staff that features a freak, a consistent work-man like pitcher, a pitcher who had already thrown a no-hitter last season, and a dominant bullpen. Bochy dealt with fifteen trips to the DL this year, that most noteworthy probably being Freddy Sanchez who started the year on the DL. His head to head record of 23-24 was decent, but against the Padres they were 6-12. While Bochy has little chance of winning the Manager of the Year award, he deserves mentioning.
Mr. "Clogs The Base Paths" has even less chance of winning the award than Bochy but deserves mentioning because they beat the Cardinals to the division crown. Dusty Baker took a team that was 78-84 and fourth place in the division last year to one that finished 91-71 and the division. The Red's didn't have to deal with as many injuries as the other managers did, with only twelve players being sent to the DL all year. Also unlike some of the other pitcher focused teams, the Red's got into the playoffs riding their bats and MVP candidate Joey Votto. As far as head to head goes Baker was only19-21 against the other managers teams. Like I said, probably not going to win the award, but it was at least nice to see the Cardinals get knocked off their pedestal.
I think Bud Black will win the award, but I think Charlie Manuel should win the award. Even though he's had the better team he's also had to deal with the most injuries, and still managed the Phillies to the best league in the Majors. Still I wouldn't be distraught if Black were to win the award he's certainly been one of the reasons for the Padres success.