Baseball's award season is upon us and we finally have a vote that counts for something this year. We're proud members of the Baseball Blogger Alliance and they've been kind enough to give us ballots. The only thing the BBWAA ever gave us was the stink eye when we saw them on the subway that one time. Today we'll be unveiling our AL Connie Mack Ballot for manager of the year.
1. Terry Francona
Despite Boston missing the playoffs, I'm giving Tito the slight nod over Ron Washington because he somehow managed the Red Sox to an 89-73 record in baseball's toughest division without core players. The Sox lost their entire outfield, their MVP second baseman, Mike Lowell turned 127, Big Papi had his usual godawful start and Jonathan Papelbon melted down. Paps led the AL in blown saves with 8 and, if that wasn't enough, Daniel Bard was tied for second with 7. I don't know what Tito was doing in Boston this year and even if I found out it was voodoo, I'd still give him the credit for it.
2. Ron Washington
Washington's Rangers managed to unseat the Angels from atop the AL West. He got an MVP season out of Josh Hamilton, a big rebound year from Vlad Guerrero, a break out performance from CJ Wilson and barely had to worry about bullpen management as Neftali Feliz set the rookie saves record. All of the stars aligned perfectly for him. It also didn't hurt that Seattle was terrible, Oakland was just a .500 club and the Angels started Brandon Wood.
3. Ron Gardenhire
It infuriates me to see Gardy go do something like sac bunt in the first inning but he constantly has the Twins in the playoffs. This year he did so despite losing Justin Morneau half way through an MVP caliber season and Joe Nathan for the season. He even got 221 solid innings out of Carl Pavano without him turning back into a pumpkin. I suspect that might have been voodoo too though. Gardy won the Central by 6 games over the White Sox after it looked like it could be a close race.