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Survey says: Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Craig Kimbrel the best at what they do

Mar 23, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT

Mike Trout AP

Joel Sherman of the New York Post polled 18 scouts and executives for a ranking of the five best position players, starting pitchers, relief pitchers, managers and general managers entering the 2014 regular season.

As you can probably guess, Mike Trout won the ballot for best position player, with two-time defending AL MVP Miguel Cabrera finishing as the runner-up. One GM called Trout “basically the real-life version of Robocop”.

Kershaw ran away with the vote for the best starting pitcher, and respondents were effusive about everything he does on and off the field. Justin Verlander and Jose Fernandez tied for second place. Craig Kimbrel received praise as the game’s best reliever, with Aroldis Chapman finishing a close second.

Joe Maddon and Mike Matheny took home the vote for best manager. Billy Beane of the Athletics and Andrew Friedman of the Rays were one and two for best general manager. Nothing shocking there, either.

  1. arizonagrit - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    Not saying he’s garbage or anything, but Mike Matheny best in the NL? Really?

    • Kevin S. - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:01 PM

      Honestly, who would you say is better? Bruce Bochy certainly has his strengths, but he also has some glaring, glaring weaknesses. Can’t really think of anybody else I’d make a strong argument for.

      • illuminancer - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:17 PM

        I am frequently critical of Bochy, but at the end of the day, there’s no manager I’d rather have in the postseason. Bochy has much less depth–especially in pitching–to work with than Matheny, but somehow, he managed to get career performances out of guys like Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito, with Tim Lincecum being shoved off to the bullpen. Not many managers are going to tell a two-time Cy Young winner who had been the face of the franchise that he wasn’t going to be in the postseason rotation. I’ve been impressed by Matheny, but I think that right now, Bochy’s experience gives him the edge.

      • arizonagrit - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:48 AM

        It’s not who I would say is better, but I can’t see how Matheny inherits the mantle of best manager when he comes into a stacked team. It’s like Miguel Cabrera being MVP because he’s on a playoff team. Again, I’m not saying Matheny sucks or Cabrera isn’t a worthy candidate, just that this feels a little too prisoner of the moment for me. Bochy, Hurdle, Collins I think all are pretty good, despite their weaknesses. The only thing I see you or anyone else giving Matheny extra credit for is team success.

    • paperlions - Mar 24, 2014 at 7:41 AM

      If you read the article, you will see what FO people value in a manager and why they like what Matheny has done.

      • spudchukar - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        C’mon PL, you can’t really expect commentors/commenters to take the time to actually read an article. Where’s the knee-jerk fun in that? As a side note, does anybody know the correct spelling of those who comment?

      • arizonagrit - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        “Matheny has created a tremendous culture in a traditional way.”

        Got it. Matheny wins.

  2. Carl Hancock - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    A manager with no coaching experience experience takes his team to within a game of the World Series his first season as a manager and to the World Series his second despite lots of turnover and the use of a tremendous amount of young players? All while having to carry the torch and emerge out of the shadow of a Hall of Fame manager in Tony LaRussa? Yea I’d say if you question Matheny’s rating as one of the best managers you must not know much about baseball or simply aren’t paying attention close enough. Either that our you are a disgruntled Cubs, Reds, Bucs or Brewers fan.

    • moogro - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      Or maybe you are something else, thinking something else. Just one of many possibilities: that Metheny inherited a talented team, and that a manager doesn’t affect things a lot unless they are abrasive or stupid.

    • arizonagrit - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:52 AM

      I have no vested interest in the Central, but in the East. I do not like my manager, so there is no bias. But, your defense is far too homerish. I’d say if you blindly anoint him as great and dismiss all the other variables to the Cardinals success then you aren’t paying attention close enough.

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      I wouldn’t say he isn’t a very good manager, because he is, but the best? He has only been a manager for two years, and while he’s been incredibly successful, I look at a guy like Bruce Bochy who has maintained a similar level of success over a longer period of time and think, this guy doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

  3. mmeyer3387 - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    This is always a very subjective topic when you are polling who is the best at their job responsibilities in the MLB. I clearly that believe that a good argument can be made for one of the winners that were picked as the best. Yet, there are also many other names that are also just as worthy of being the best at their jobs as well. Nonetheless, in my option there is not any clear and obvious winner for each position, except for the best pitcher. In my opinion, Clayton Kershaw may be head and shoulders above his peers. Of course, there are many that may disagree with me and pick someone else.

  4. andreweac - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:08 AM

    Matheny is ridiculously overrated. Considering the massive amount of quality and quantity of talent the Cardinals have nearly any competent manager would have similar amount of success.

    Give credit to the GM — not the manager.

    • stex52 - Mar 24, 2014 at 8:10 AM

      Well, he is overrated by his peers. I’m not sure who you think would be a better group to judge.

    • spudchukar - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM

      So let me get the logic straight. If a manager assumes a position with a talented team he automatically sucks and cannot be considered as good or better than his peers because he was hired to guide an already successful team?

      • madhatternalice - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        You do realize there are something like a million degrees of separation between “best” and “worst,” right? Why must you go to the extreme just because someone disagrees that he isn’t the best?

      • spudchukar - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        What? Where did I say anything about “worst”.?

  5. sfm073 - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:52 AM

    As a cardinal fan I like matheny, but I think it’s a stretch to call him the best. He’s great with handling the media and his players, but his in game decision making leaves a lot to be desired.

    • spudchukar - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      Examples, please!?

  6. mikhelb - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:45 AM

    It is hard to designate a manager as “the best” based on team success, specially if that manager inherited a talented crop of players.

    Take Joe Torre for example, all his life he was a so-so manager who had a couple of good seasons as a manager before he inherited a talented group of players before the 1996 season with the Yankees reaching the postseason the year before and having the best record of the AL in the strike shortened season of 1994. He won championships with the group of players Showalter+Gene Michaels developed and groomed. When the Yankees became mostly Cashman acquisitions, Torre “failed” to deliver championships though his teams were good enough to win their division (playing in the hardest division has his pros like the 3rd and 4th team beating the 1st and 2nd place teams and helping to keep the intradivision race tight). Girardi inherited a good team but couldn’t deliver until Cashman acquired CC and Teix, and have not won since then…is he a bad manager who can only win with BIG acquisitions? is he a lucky manager or a good manager considering his team won 85 games in 2013 with an awful team?

    Same with Torre… he is now heralded as one of the best managers only after he managed the Yankees. I see a better manager in Showalter, Maddon and Bochy than in Matheeny as of now. Bochy maintained the Padres in the race in seasons where they had horrible non-hitting teams. Maddon has the benefit of a great player-developing machinery but also has had seasons where his best players were trades or signed elsewhere and has had to replace them. Showalter? He got the reins of teams in the garbage bin and built World Series caliber teams in NY, Arizona and Texas… and now is working very good with the Orioles, it will not surprise me if the Oriloles make it to the WS in 2014 or 2015.

  7. 1harrypairatesties - Mar 24, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    Mike Matheny?? I’m sure even he his laughing!

  8. southpaw2k - Mar 24, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    In related news, a recent survey has also established water is wet, the sun rises in the east, and there are 24 hours in a day.

  9. gibbyfan - Mar 24, 2014 at 8:26 AM

    Thanks for the article Bill. I say in all modesty that I feel a bit vindicated. Not too long ago I posted on here that I wish the Cards had gotten Chapman because I felt he was the best reliever in the league. I was thimbed down bya fair number of readers because his sabermetric data didn’t support that………

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      I was thimbed down bya fair number of readers because his sabermetric data didn’t support that………

      Chapman isn’t the best reliever in the bigs, both by this article and the “data”

      Chapman: 185.1 IP, 2.43 ERA, 164 ERA+; 14.8 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 3.28 K/BB
      Kimbrel: 206.2 IP, 1.48 ERA, 264 ERA+; 14.9 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 5.17 K/BB

      So maybe that’s why you were thumbed down?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        Data from 2011 to current, which is Chapman’s first full year.

      • spudchukar - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:57 AM

        And if it wasn’t for the Chapman comments, perhaps it was the knowledge that they already have somebody, who I believe is just as good. Maybe not quite as dynamic, but a little steadier, carrying a 5 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:09 AM

        Seriously, do you guys just grow pitchers with 95+mph fast balls in a factory somewhere? It’s not fair to the rest of us!

      • gibbyfan - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        “‘ Kimbrel received praise as the game’s best reliever, with Aroldis Chapman finishing a close second ”

        The above is…….. .from this article

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:45 AM

        “‘ Kimbrel received praise as the game’s best reliever, with Aroldis Chapman finishing a close second ”

        And when you said you thought Chapman was the best, which he’s not, this article doesn’t validate you because Chapman isn’t voted the best.

        And as spud mentions, Rosenthal might be as good if not better (needs a longer track record imo).

  10. jm91rs - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Who did they select as the best fans in baseball???

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:05 PM

      I would comment jm…but it isn’t the “Cardinal way.”

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