Friday, October 5, 2012

2012 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 2012 is the Connie Mack Award, presented to the top manager in each league.

National League

The Giants may have been favoured by many to win the NL West, but finishing eight games ahead of the second-place Dodgers is mighty impressive given the circumstances. Having to play the season without stud closer Brian Wilson, Bochy did a masterful job of managing his bullpen. He also had to contend with losing Melky Cabrera for the last 50 games of the season due to a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. On top of that, the Dodgers broke open the vault and loaded up with talent in an August trade with the Boston Red Sox.  None of this was a problem for the Giants and they easily pulled away from the Dodgers down the stretch.

Also warranting serious consideration was rookie manager Mike Matheny. Cardinals fans went into 2012 unsure of what to expect after losing slugger Albert Pujols, managing icon Tony Larussa and possibly the best pitching coach in the history of baseball: Dave Duncan. Serious injuries to Lance Berkman and Rafel Furcal added to Matheny's challenges. The ingredients were all there for a rough season in St. Louis, but Matheny found his managerial footing quickly and the Cardinals snagged a wild card spot with an 88-74 record. I wouldn't be surprised to see this team do some damage in the post-season once again.

The Washington Nationals are headed to the playoffs for the first time in their young history thanks to an incredible array of young talent. Manager Davey Johnson is the sentimental favourite in many circles to win the NL manager of the year award, but we're not much for sentimentality on this blog. He did a solid job of guiding his young club, but given the talent available to him and the lack of any serious adversity during the season we don't believe that merits winning manager of the year.

Accordingly, my NL ballot is:
  1. Bruce Bochy - San Fransisco Giants
  2. Mike Matheny - St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Davey Johnson - Washington Nationals
American League

There are two obvious choices for manager of the year in the AL and then there's a huge drop-off in quality candidates. Our choice for the award is Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles. Many had tagged the Orioles for another last-place finish, but the team was baseball's biggest surprise of 2012. Baltimore's 93-69 record is downright stunning when you consider that they only scored seven (!!!) more runs than they gave up. Showalter deserves a good chunk of the credit for his team's perfect 16-0 record in extra innings and their 29-9 mark in one-run games. 

The other obvious choice in the AL for manager of the year is Bob Melvin of the Oakland A's. With a meagre $55 million payroll, the A's shocked the baseball world by winning the AL West over the heavily-favoured Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels. At the All Star break, Oakland had a meagre 41-41 record, but they went on a second-half tear and played .663 baseball the rest of the way. Given their collection of no-name players, Melvin did a wonderful job of getting this group of underdogs into the playoffs.

Honourable mention goes to veteran manager Jim Leyland. Although the Tigers underachieved for much of the season, Leyland rallied the troops for a late-season surge that brought them the AL Central title.

My ballot in the junior circuit is:
  1. Buck Showalter - Baltimore Orioles
  2. Bob Melvin - Oakland Athletics
  3. Jim Leyland - Detroit Tigers