Francona beat out Boston skipper John Farrell by 16 points, with Oakland's Bob Melvin coming in third. Here's a look at the full results:
|AL Manager of the Year Results|
|John Farrell||Red Sox||12||10||6||96|
|Baseball Writers Association of America|
The Indians went 92-70 in 2013, a year after they went 68-94 and finished with the fifth-worst record in all of baseball. They qualified for the playoffs this year, thanks in large part to a 10-game winning streak at the end of the season. It was also the Indians' first playoff appearance since 2007.
Although they lost in the Wild Card playoff game, it didn't take away from what the Indians accomplished.
Some fans didn't take kindly to the news, as they feel like Farrell was robbed of the award:
It's understandable why some fans would be upset. After all, the Red Sox were only one game better than the Indians in 2012, and five games better during the 2013 regular season. Not only that, but they won the World Series.
One fan did put it into perspective, however:
For a team that went from worst to first, it's understandable why fans would be angry. But there's a little history behind the AL Manager of the Year.
Recent history hasn't been too kind to AL managers who guided their teams to the World Series. Joe Maddon won it in 2008 after guiding the Rays to the World Series, while Jim Leyland (2006) and Ozzie Guillen (2005) won the awards and went to the World Series. Out of those three, only Guillen's team won the World Series.
And as Francona and Boston fans know, just because you win the World Series (or make it there), it doesn't mean you're guaranteed to win the top managerial award.
In 2004 and 2007, when Boston won its previous titles, Francona was edged out in the voting as well. In 2004, Francona finished fifth, despite leading the Red Sox to lift "The Curse of the Bambino." Buck Showalter (Rangers), Ron Gardenhire (Twins), Mike Scioscia (Angels) and Joe Torre (Yankees) all finished ahead of him.
Then, in 2007, Francona finished fourth behind Eric Wedge (Indians), Scioscia and Torre.
History has shown that the manager who wins the award is the one who has done more with less, and that doesn't necessarily mean becoming a world champion. This year, that was Francona.
Why Francona Is the Right Choice
For those who wonder why Francona is a better choice, all you have to do is look deeper into the numbers:
|Comparing Indians to Red Sox in 2013|
The first number is the most important. With almost half the payroll of the Red Sox, the Indians were still able to be close in every category; Francona did more with less.
The Red Sox had seven players making more than $10 million, while the Indians had one—Nick Swisher ($11 million). Cleveland also did it with a patchwork rotation that included Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. Boston did it with the likes of Jon Lester, Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster and Clay Buchholz.
Simply put, Farrell had more to work with in Boston than Francona did in Cleveland.
What His Players Are Saying
It's interesting to get Cleveland players' perspective on who was the heart of the team:
Francona brought a winning attitude to Cleveland, and it's a mindset that gives players and fans hope for the future.
He Deserved It
Despite your beliefs, it's hard to argue that Francona didn't deserve the award. He's been worthy of the distinction for a long time, but somehow never was able to finish better than fourth.
Managing a team that lacked the star power that Boston had, it's safe to say Francona and the Indians overachieved.
They improved by 24 games from a season ago. The last time Cleveland had a turnaround of that magnitude was in 1995, when it won 100 games, 34 more than the previous year. And it just so happened to coincide with their first World Series appearance in 41 years.
Francona turned around a team without the aid of a huge payroll, and did it with a bevy of players who had been written off by the rest of baseball.
The Indians gave Cleveland hope once again. It's a hope that is almost 50 years in the making since the city last won a title in any sport. It's been close a few times in baseball, but came up short. In basketball, it was thought that LeBron James would surely bring a title to his hometown. But that didn't happen. And the Browns are...well, the Browns.
Cleveland is relevant again in the sports world and it's thanks in large part to Francona.