The Washington Nationals’ Davey Johnson has been named the National League Manager of the Year after guiding his team to the best regular-season record in baseball.
MLB Network reported the accomplishment via Twitter:
Despite the chaos in the clubhouse, Washington finished with an 80-81 record (40-43 under Johnson), but the 69-year-old breathed new life into the franchise this season.
With incredible talent on his pitching staff and a young team, Johnson struck the right chord with his players and was able to push them to their full potential in 2012.
As The New York Times’ William C. Rhoden notes, Washington’s payroll ranked 20th among 30 MLB teams. The team’s roster is not loaded with top-dollar free agents, and it needed a strong-willed manager to ensure that the franchise could compete with baseball’s big spenders.
Johnson’s gutsiness was on full display this season with drama surrounding Stephen Strasburg’s innings limit. The 24-year-old right-hander has established himself as one of baseball’s premier pitchers, but he was coming off Tommy John surgery that he underwent last winter.
The Nationals stood firmly behind their decision to place Strasburg’s long-term health over the team’s success this season and shut him down, regardless of the team’s guaranteed spot in the postseason.
Johnson was a public supporter of this course of action and was able to keep the team focused throughout the fiasco.
He led the Nationals to the playoffs, where they were disappointingly eliminated in the fifth game of the National League Division Series versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
Johnson’s leadership was instrumental in bringing success back to a franchise that had not enjoyed it in decades, no matter what city it called home. His accomplishments with a team and a town that had seemingly forgotten how to win baseball games were remarkable this past season, and he undoubtedly deserves this award.
Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo have ironed out a deal that will keep him in the dugout for one more season, as The Washington Post's James Wagner noted.
He has certainly earned the right to come back and try to improve upon the success he has had thus far, and the Nationals' future is looking bright with Johnson at the helm.