What makes a good manager? What sets one manager apart from another? These are the questions I struggled with this season after finding out I had an American League Manager of the Year vote.
I mean, what is the award even about? Doesn't it go to the best team in each league? How do you judge a manager's effectiveness? Unlike my other national vote this season, at least there wasn't pressure on this one. No one was likely to seek me out and excoriate me for how I voted.
Still, it's not something to be taken lightly. As a card-carrying, basement-dwelling Internet writer, I have a reputation to uphold. So, during various points of the season, I tried to check in with fan bases, see what people who followed their teams closely thought of their hometown boss.
I read things like Richard Justice's great take on Joe Maddon and re-thought what made a successful manager. In fact, at midseason, Maddon was on my ballot. He had to be, even if the Rays didn't make it to the playoffs.
That's why Buck Showalter ended up first on my ballot. it wasn't because the Orioles won their division and made the playoffs. It was because of how he won it. Holding that team together, despite debilitating injuries to Matt Wieters and Manny Machado is difficult. Surviving a down year from Crush Davis and dealing with the fallout of his positive Adderoll test upped the ante even more.
Yet, there the Orioles were, rushing to the finish line as the best team in the East. That got my vote.
In second place, I put Mike Scioscia. At midseason, I would not have done this. But, the second half Angels surge, after losing their best pitcher was like what Showalter did, but sped up.
Finally, I put Ned Yost third. This could be seen as a controversial pick. The Royals fans I talked to during the season indicated that they thought KC may be winning in spite of Yost. Yet, they won. He maintained that weird mix of chemistry. He got them to stop playing Clash of Clans.
You couldn't convince me to put him higher, but because of what he did, Yost deserved the final spot on my ballot.
And now that's done. What do you think? Should I have given more time to Lloyd McClendon? Did Showalter deserve to win a third Manager of the Year award?