By now it’s well known and documented that Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell is nominated for the AL Manager of the Year award. Whether or not he will take home the hardware remains to be seen but for now it’s worth examining if the first-year manager for the Red Sox can be crowned as the top manager in the American League.
Farrell is up against his old boss and good friend in Terry Francona who managed the Cleveland Indians to a wild-card berth, surprising many by the success that this club had.
Bob Melvin of the Oakland A’s is the other finalist, who once again found a way to extract the most value out of his club’s minuscule payroll and win the AL West, defying the odds that were set before the year started.
Lately, this award doesn’t go to the manager from the club with a high payroll. Mike Scioscia of the LA Angels and Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers did win this award in the past seven years, but outside of that the manager of the year has come from the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland A’s, Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians. All clubs that are deemed “small market” and operate with a payroll much less than that of the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers, to name a few.
The argument will be made against Farrell that his club had the fourth highest payroll in baseball compared to the Indians who had the 21st largest and Oakland who had the fifth lowest. Only the Pirates, Rays, Marlins and Astros spent less money on their players this year.
But what can’t be over looked is the fact that Farrell took one of the worst teams in baseball the previous year and guided them to the best record across the majors. Yes the roster looked dramatically different thanks to key free-agents brought in and a resurgence from Jon Lester and to a lesser extent John Lackey helped right the ship in Boston. The bullpen was revamped and was a lock all year for the Red Sox, being a staple in the Sox success.
You could say that Farrell managed this club almost perfectly throughout the regular season and now he’s being recognized for it by simply being nominated. First to worst is no small feat and the success that this club had this year is directly related to the job that Farrell did.
When looking at what both Melvin and Francona had to work with when comparing payrolls, it’s easy to tilt the scales in one of their directions. The Indians had roughly half the payroll of the Sox while the A’s were almost $100 million shy when compared to Boston. Will that play in to the voters thoughts? The award is based on the regular season with the postseason not holding any merit which could make it difficult for Farrell to win when considering who has won it in the past.
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