BSI roundtable: who will be the Managers of the Year?


Yesterday we (successfully) predicted the winners of the AL and NL Rookie of the Year Awards. Today, we took a shot at the Manager of the Year Awards and asked our staff about the prospective winners.

Rick McNair: Ned Yost and Bruce Bochy

Imagine the wolves in KC were calling for his pelt back in early July and then the Royals turned it around. Yost was quite adept at using his most significant pitching resource – his bullpen. Yost handled his roster fine using that old adage of putting players in a position to do what they do best.

You could flip teams with Bochy and Yost. Both used their rosters superbly. For Bochy it was quite a standard routine of going from worst to first. With Cain gone I figured his squad was toast. Not so.

Conor Duffy: Ned Yost and Matt Williams

Ned Yost is a no-brainer for the AL Manager of the Year award after a remarkable season in Kansas City. Despite no true stars or elite talent, Yost was able to send Kansas City to the World Series after an incredible 8-0 start to the Postseason. Even though the World Series didn’t go as hoped for the Royals, there’s no doubt that Yost will win this award for his efforts at the helm of the team.

While Bruce Bochy is a strong candidate for the NL Manager of the Year, I’d give the NL Manager of the Year award to the manager of the team that Bochy’s Giants beat in the NLDS. After a disappointing 2013 season, Matt Williams really ignited the Nationals, finally cashing in on their elite potential. While the Nats’ playoff run was once again cut short early, that has more to do with the bats going silent than it does with any ineptitude on the part of Williams.

Drew Peabody: Buck Showalter and Matt Williams

My AL manager of the year is Baltimore’s Buck Showalter. It helped that Dan Duquette put together a potent lineup for him, bringing in Nelson Cruz to lead the AL in homers. The division wasn’t too strong either, but nobody picked them to win the AL East and they kept their foot on the gas the whole season easily take the division. They had an untested closer (Zach Britton) and no real ace (Chris Tillman is close) but emerged victorious.

My NL manager of the year is Washington’s Matt Williams. They were expected to be good, as in recent years, but when you win a division by 17 games, some credit is due. They had a strong and balanced lineup and their rotation was deep. Williams navigated a closer controversy (Rafael Soriano gave way to Drew Storen late in the season), a serious injury to one of his stars (Ryan Zimmerman), and the growing pains of a young, opinionated phenom (Bryce Harper) to a
dominating season. Williams has reinforced a winning culture there that should pay them dividends down the line.

Joe Meehan: Buck Showalter and Bruce Bochy

Showalter did perhaps his best work this season, in a year where the Orioles weren’t expected to make too much noise. Showalter took a team of replacements, having lost a large portion of their nucleus to injury, and turned them into a 96-win ALCS team.

This award has to go to Bochy. With a month to go in the season many thought the Giants wouldn’t even make it to October. But once again Bochy helped guide them into the postseason and all the way to a World Series win, his third in the last five seasons.

Lucy Burdge: Ned Yost and Matt Williams

Though he made some iffy decisions and his team hit a major-league-low 95 homeruns this season, Yost played to his players’ strengths and guided the Kansas City Royals to their first playoff appearance in 29 years. That should be reason enough to call Yost the AL Manager of the Year, but his team also finished the season with an impressive 88-76 record and overcame some low points in a rollercoaster season under his leadership. Plus he has Bobby Cox’ vote.

In his first season at the helm of the Washington Nationals, Williams led the team to 96-win season, not to mention a robbery of the NL East, which they won by a staggering 17 games. Though the Nationals were expected to do well this season, Williams was able to work around an injury-plagued lineup without panic. He also made it clear that he doesn’t tolerate nonsense: he benched superstar Bryce Harper for “lack of hustle” during a game in April in which Harper failed to run the entire 90 feet to first after grounding back to the pitcher. Williams’ fellow managers recently voted him Sporting News’ NL Manager of the Year and I’d be surprised if the Baseball Writers of America don’t do the same.

Matt Loper: Buck Showalter for AL MoY

In a division with the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox and perennial big spenders in the New York Yankees, not to mention the pesky Tampa Rays who have been sneaky good for the better part of the last decade, the Baltimore Orioles were clearly the best team and it wasn’t even close. They won the season series against every team in the division and finished the year 47-29 in the AL East as well as 30 games over .500 overall. It’s not like they cleaned up at Camden yards either – the Orioles record at home was only 4 games better than on the road. They’ve improved every season under Buck, although they did dip slightly from the 2012 season to 2013. Showalter has quietly and calmly led this group to be a real, consistent threat in the AL behind solid pitching and quality power hitting. They had 4 position players with over 20 homerun, including the league leader with 40 homeruns in Nelson Cruz. All of this coming with a modest payroll of about 107 million dollars (compared to that of Boston at about 156 million dollars and the Yankees at about 197 million dollars). If the Orioles hadn’t met up with the incredibly hot Kansas City Royals in the ALCS, there would likely be no doubt at all that Buck Showalter should be Manager of the Year in 2014. My guess is that next season, the Orioles won’t be sneaking up on anybody.

Paul Tascherau: Ned Yost and Matt Williams