Washington Nationals Manager Davey Johnson beat out Cincinnati Reds Manager Dusty Baker as the National League Manager of the Year, according to the Sporting News. Johnson led Washington to an NL East Championship and a major league-best 98 wins.
Johnson's accomplishments were quite impressive given that the Nationals had not had a winning record since moving to Washington in 2005, and a District-based baseball team had not seen the postseason since 1933.
It was the second time in his career that the 69-year-old Johnson won the Manager of the Year Award.
The first was in 1997, when he guided the Baltimore Orioles to the American League East title, only to lose to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series. The Indians went on to lose to the Florida Marlins in the World Series.
Johnson's resume is impressive. He has managed 14 seasons in Major League Baseball, and his .561 winning percentage is second only to former Baltimore manager Earl Weaver, who has a.583 percentage, among living managers with 10 or more years of experience.
In 15 seasons as big league manager, Johnson has finished first or second 11 times, including five division titles, one pennant and one World Series Championship, which he earned with the Mets in 1986
In a statement released by the team sent to me via e-mail and also printed in Sporting News, Johnson commented on the honor:
To be recognized by my fellow comrades, a particularly accomplished bunch, makes this award especially meaningful. I send my thanks to them and the folks at Sporting News, as well as the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo for giving me the opportunity to manage such a special, talented group of men. To put on the uniform every day and compete is an honor I never take for granted.
It was Johnson who in spring training boldly pronounced during an interview with Comcast SportsNet’s Kelli Johnson that if the Nationals did not make the playoffs, ”Management should fire me.”
Despite leading the Nationals to an NL East Championship and an MLB-best 98 wins, he did it with plenty of issues. He started the season without his top power hitter, outfielder Michael Morse, and his closer Drew Storen. As the season progressed, he lost Jayson Werth to a broken wrist when the right fielder dove to catch a fly ball. He also lost All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond to injury for twenty days. Then, of course, there was the shutting down of star pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
On the bright side, Johnson oversaw the launching of his young star outfielder Bryce Harper, who joined the team in April, and the breakout year of his starting pitching staff, led by 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez.
So despite losing to St. Louis in five games in the National League Divisional Series, it was an outstanding season for the Nationals skipper.