Boston Red Sox: John Farrell finishes 4th in AL Manager of the Year voting

Sep 25, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell in the dugout during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell in the dugout during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox skipper John Farrell finished 4th for the American League Manager of the Year, while old friend Terry Francona took home the hardware.

Winners take home the gold, while the runner-ups receive the consultation prizes of silver and bronze. What do you get for fourth place – tin, perhaps? That’s what will be awarded to Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Boston’s skipper finished fourth for the American League Manager of the Year award in a season where he led the Red Sox to a division title and their first postseason appearance since 2013.

Old friend Terry Francona ran away with the award, receiving 22 of 30 first-place votes. Tito’s Cleveland Indians won the AL Central division with 94 wins, ultimately falling short in the World Series. While the Manager of the Year is a regular season award, Francona further justified these results by navigating a difficult postseason path with an injury riddled rotation and revolutionizing playoff baseball with his bullpen management.

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Francona was the clear winner in the eyes of most of those casting a ballot, yet Farrell did earn a pair of first-place votes from USA Today’s Hal Bodley and FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris. He also received three second-place votes and nine third-place votes.

A large contingency of Red Sox fans must be viewing these results with an eye roll, or perhaps utter disbelief. John Farrell, who incited a #FireFarrell campaign that spread across social media platforms like wild fire, is being viewed by reputable members of the media as being great at his job?

Did those that voted for Farrell only look at Boston’s worst-to-first turnaround? Did some feel obligated to at least find room for him on the ballot simply because the Red Sox were a division winner?

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Certainly they couldn’t have witnessed much of Farrell’s in-game management, or they may have noticed how he struggles to utilize his bullpen or his questionable lineup decisions. Allowing the team to take their foot off the gas down the stretch, costing them home-field advantage in the divisional round, didn’t sit well with Red Sox fans when the team was swept by Cleveland. The bonehead move to use Steven Wright as a pinch-runner, which led to the end of the All-Star pitcher’s season, would disqualify him from consideration in the minds of many.

Yet a number of intelligent writers tasked with ranking the league’s top managers felt that Farrell at least deserved consideration. The consensus didn’t quite have him among the elite, but he still finished squarely inside the top third among AL managers. Which begs the question – have we been too hard on Farrell?

Farrell certainly has his flaws, each of which are magnified under the microscope of a fan base that treats anything short of a championship as a failure. His mistakes become headline news, while his triumphs go mostly unnoticed.

Most of what Farrell provides for this team happens behind closed doors, so when it’s not on display in front of us we’re hesitant to give him credit for it. Farrell has a great rapport with this team. They respect him and they will fight for him. Among all the traits that a manager needs to succeed, being a leader that the team is eager to follow is at the top of the list.

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Not everyone will agree with the notion that Farrell is even an above-average manager, but the Red Sox front office seems to think he is considering they made the decision to keep him at the cost of losing Torey Lovullo to the Arizona Diamondbacks. While that choice will be debated for years to come, it’s clear that unbiased eyes viewing this team from the outside consider Farrell to be among the top few managers in the league.

He may not be the best, but it’s clear the Red Sox could do a lot worse.