Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season with different names because they get litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. First up, the Connie Mack or how I learned to stop worrying about former players managing and love them bombing.
It appears there are two key ways to win the Connie Mack (cough*manageroftheyear*cough). You can manage a team that is expected to be terrible and then accidentally win 92 games and make the playoffs. Or you can manage a team that does well despite key losses and also make the playoffs. It's a good year to be Buck Showalter if you want a trophy.
1. Buck Showalter
Few had the Orioles flat out winning the AL East, let alone running away with it. The O's lost debatably talented Matt Weiters at catcher, stud youngster Manny Machado at third to injuries and Chris Davis to a suspension even though he had regressed all the way back to his Arlington days. Showalter led the team to a 96-66 record, good for second in the American League, and tied for second in baseball. I feel like it was done with a lot of smoke and mirrors as the Orioles starting staff had the 28th best FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) in MLB and the bullpen ranked 15th in FIP. Still, Zach Britton emerged as a lockdown closer. Nelson Cruz blasted 40 homers, Adam Jones did his thing and Steve Pearce was resurrected from the dead.
How much credit does Showalter deserve? Probably not much. But it was incredibly difficult trying to find a pic of him not pointing at something.
2. Terry Francona
It's not that I don't respect or care about these awards. But Manager of the Year is so hard to determine, I might have voted for Francona when he worked for ESPN one year. For example, when does a manager deserve credit for a player turning a corner? I don't know. But Corey Kluber led baseball pitchers in fWAR (Fangraphs wins above replacement) and Michael Brantley finished third in fWAR behind Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen.
3. Mike Scioscia
Leading the Angels to the best record in baseball is reason enough to make the AL ballot. But there's a little more to it in my eyes this year. The Angels scored the most runs in baseball. Scioscia actually managed the team he was given instead of forcing his small ball approach on a Jerry Dipoto built roster. It's an old dog learning new tricks scenario that must have made his skin crawl. And for that, he gets a third place vote from me. That said, Dipoto had to trade Ernesto Frieri away from the skipper to keep Frieri from serving up enough meatballs to cure world hunger.
LVM. Ron Washington
Washington resigned on Sept 5 citing personal reasons and later declared he was embarrassed after not being true to his wife of 42 years. Those are certainly his issues to deal with and I don't care to speculate any further. Finishing below the Astros in the AL West is plenty embarrassing enough.