Friday, October 7, 2011

2011 Connie Mack Awards

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. As a member of the alliance, we have the honour of casting a ballot for each of the five awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues. The first award for 2011 is the Connie Mack Award, presented to the top manager in each league.

National League

This year, the Connie Mack Award in the National League is a no-brainer. Kirk Gibson took a team that won only 65 games in 2010 and ended up shocking most baseball experts by leading his squad to 94 victories and the NL West title. Gibson was able to get his team to adopt many of the same attributes that he displayed as a player and he succeeded in completely changing the clubhouse culture in Arizona this year. His intensity ensured that losing was no longer accepted without a fight and this was best demonstrated by the Diamondbacks' 48 come-from-behind victories in 2011.

Also warranting serious consideration was Ron Roenicke, who led the Milwaukee Brewers to their first division title in almost 30 years. He took a team that was nearly identical to the one that won only 77 games in 2010 managed to post an impressive 96 victories, in spite of distractions such as the ongoing Prince Fielder free agency issue.

Tony LaRussa proved once again why he is one of the most successful managers of all time. Although the Cardinals suffered some early season turmoil in the clubhouse, LaRussa rallied the troops down the stretch and the team erased an 8 1/2 game deficit in September to snag the wildcard birth.

Accordingly, my NL ballot is:
  1. Kirk Gibson - Arizona Diamondbacks
  2. Ron Roenicke - Milwaukee Brewers
  3. Tony LaRussa - St. Louis Cardinals
American League

Speaking of comebacks, Joe Maddon continued to pull miracles out of his hat in 2011. The Tampa Bay Rays overcame a 9-game deficit to win the wildcard on the last day of the season. Somehow, a team with a $41.9M payroll managed to squeak past the Red Sox and their bloated $161M payroll (all figures as of opening day). Moneyball is alive and well and the proof is in Tampa Bay.

Ron Washington led the Texas Rangers to their second consecutive AL West division title in 2011. In spite of the loss of Cliff Lee, the team cruised to a 96-win season.

Jim Leyland proved that he can still do the job by managing the Tigers to their first division title since 1987. Their 95 wins was only two behind the New York Yankees, a team with twice the payroll than Detroit.

My ballot in the junior circuit is:
  1. Joe Maddon - Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Ron Washington - Texas Rangers
  3. Jim Leyland - Detroit Tigers
UPDATE:
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has announced that the NL Connie Mack Award winner was indeed Kirk Gibson. In the AL, the award went to Joe Maddon. You can read all of the details on the Baseball Bloggers Alliance web site.

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