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Kirk Gibson, Joe Maddon named Managers of the Year

Nov 16, 2011, 2:02 PM EDT

Kirk Gibson Getty Images

Your 2011 Managers of the Year: Kirk Gibson and Joe Maddon.

I don’t know what to make of the Manager of the Year Award. Never have. No one has yet shown me a good way to measure the candidates against one another. It usually ends up with a “who did the most with the least” analysis, but there is all kinds of subjectivity that can be brought into that.

Not the least of which is what the very writers who vote on the award thought about the winners’ teams before the season began.  If the writers just totally misjudged a team and thought they would suck but they somehow didn’t suck, they turn around and name that team’s manager Manager of the Year.  Maybe the writers just had it wrong and that team was bound to be good!  Maybe the manager actually underachieved!  There’s no way to know this stuff, of course and, yes, I’m just being a pain in the butt here.

I do know this, though: everyone — myself included — thought the Diamondbacks would stink. They did not stink. Far from it.  And it was therefore inevitable that Kirk Gibson was going to be named NL Manager of the Year.

And there should be no complaining about that as far as I can reckon.  More than just appear to greatly overachieve, Gibson really did change the tone around the Dbacks.  One year removed from a clubhouse revolt that cost A.J. Hinch his job, the Dbacks had an air of top-down discipline from the day spring training started and it remained throughout the season. Gibson is responsible for that and with the Dbacks’ success, even if Kevin Towers made a strong assist by revamping the bullpen and stuff.  It’s really darn hard to find any fault with Gibson winning.

In the AL, we also have a winner whose team bucked expectations.  The Rays lost their entire bullpen and, as usual, had to fight the mighty Yankees and Red Sox with a fraction of the payroll.  I’m pretty sure Maddon would have won even if the Red Sox’ collapse didn’t help the Rays snag the wild card on the last day of the season, but when that happened, the award was secured.  Maddon is a smart guy and does make the most of everything he has.  Absent some other well-accepted metric for judging managerial performance, that kind of thing is going to take it every time.

Congrats Gibby and Joe.

  1. toosoxy - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    yeah, but joe maddon says crazy things. often.

    • SmackSaw - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:40 PM

      So does Charlie Manuel. So did Casey Stengal and Sparky Anderson. Your point?

  2. seanmk - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    i figure maddon won because of the comeback but then i’m wondering why tony la russa wouldn’t get more votes for doing something equally hard. sort of weird that he got no love.

    • thefalcon123 - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:15 PM

      Like Craig said, it usually has to do with how much better a team did than expected. A lot people expected the Cardinals to be competitive and win about 90 games. They just did it in really weird, incredibly exciting fashion.

      • stlouis1baseball - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:38 PM

        Agreed Falcon. Initially, the Cardinals were expected to contend. This of course was PRIOR to Holliday going down…AP going down…Freese going down…releasing their closer in June…using 8 or 9 3rd Baseman…8 or 9 2nd Baseman…6 Shortstops…a revolving Door of a bullpen that led the league in Blown Saves…and off course their pitching coach being gone for the entire Month of September. All of which left TLR with making every decision from lineup to batting order to pitching rotation to bulllpen. Other than this…the Cardinals were expected to contend.
        To clarify though…Gibson and Maddon winning the awards were much deserved. Both guys did a wonderful job this year.

      • umrguy42 - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:33 PM

        I think the question was how well St. Louis would contend given the loss of Wainwright prior to the season. I’m a little surprised at how far back TLR is in the points, behind Roenicke, even. (But, to be fair, I’m often a blatant homer.)

  3. Detroit Michael - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    So, did the people who voted for Manny Acta think the Indians overachieved even though they finished under .500, 15 games out of first place? Or where those ballots postmarked in early July?

    • Detroit Michael - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:13 PM

      “were” instead of “where” of course. We need an edit function.

  4. phukyouk - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Congrats! well deserved on both accounts. this, in my opinion, was almost as no doubter as Verlander

  5. sdelmonte - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    Judging the effectiveness of a manager is hard to do, beyond which ones are actively bad or actively good. It’s not like those other sports where play calling is part of the job. Yeah, a manager can call for bunts and pitchouts and so on, but it’s a big gulf between that and the insanely fat playbook of the NFL and even the clipboard of Pat Riley.

    Which is not a bad thing. We don’t really go to a game to see great managers, after all.

  6. b7p19 - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    The funny thing about this award is that it relies on the team around the manager to have previously been horrible…regardless of whether or not the manager was part of the reason they were previously horrible.

    • bobdira - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:58 PM

      That’s an interesting perspective. I would agree, to a point, if there are no repeat manager of the year winners (from the same team also). Hey Craig, what about it?????

  7. DJ MC - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:55 PM


    Four voters thought Fredi Gonzalez was the third-best manager in the NL this season.


  8. cintiphil - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    The only managers who do not deserve to be considered in the NL or AL are the ones with all of the paid for talent like the Yankees, Phillies, Mets and Redsox. If you can’t win with the line ups they pay for, then you should be fired.

    • Utley's Hair - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:00 AM

      Amen to that. The only managers that should be considered are the ones from the other 26 teams of volunteers. And I guess Terry Collins is sleeping with one eye open, right?

  9. Utley's Hair - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    Congratulations to Gibson and Maddon. They both seem to be the best choices within the loose parameters of the award’s guidelines.

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