This week, Bleacher Report's Featured Columnists continued our 16-part series on Major League Baseball's end-of-season awards with the results of our Rookie of the Year votes in the AL and the NL.
Today, one week before the Baseball Writers Association of America names the 2010 Managers of the Year, we're unveiling our picks for the American League's top skippers.
The top five vote-getters are featured here with commentary from people who chose them. The full list of votes is at the end.
So read on, see how we did and be sure to let us know what we got wrong!
Featured writer: Lewie Pollis
On August 3, the Baltimore Orioles stood at 32-73. Their .305 winning percentage was by far the worst in baseball, and they were farther behind the fourth-place Blue Jays than the last-place Royals were from the first-place Twins in the AL Central.
From then on, they played like a completely different team, posting the best record in the division (34-23) for the rest of the season. That’s right—they won more games in August and September than they did from April to July.
What happened on August 3? That was the day Buck Showalter took the helm in Baltimore.
Now, we can’t prove that the entire shift was due to the managerial change, and even then, maybe Dave Trembley was just really, really bad. But when the worst team in baseball goes from zero to hero the day the new skipper shows up, that deserves to be recognized.
Featured writer: Thomas Pinzone
It’s easy to think the team with the league’s best record in any given season was led by that league’s best manager. That is not the case in 2010. Did the Red Sox miss the playoffs? Sure. But the simple fact is Francona guided a team plagued with injuries to its biggest players to a winning record.
Dustin Pedrioa, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron all missed significant time. Francona had to mix and match his lineup on a daily basis with names no one thought would see Boston in 2010.
Through it all, Francona kept the boys together, kept the clubhouse under control and had his team in position at the start of September to make a run at the post season. All things considered, no one did a better job manning the ship this season than Terry Francona.
Featured writer: Jamal Wilburg
The Rays battled through the regular season, winning the AL East title, arguably the toughest division in baseball. The Rays’ winning ways over the past three seasons makes it appear that they are working with more resources than they really are. Maddon used 129 different lineups throughout the season. The Rays had the most strikeouts ever by a team to advance to the postseason with 1,292.
Through all of the ups and downs, Maddon held the team together and kept the team winning. The Rays finished the season ranked first baseball in steals and walks. They also ranked third in Runs, Opponent Batting Average and Save Percentage.
Mental errors are usually associated with coaching. The Rays set a club record for fewest errors with 85 and fewest unearned runs allowed with 38.
Featured writer: Johnathan Kroncke
Ask any number of baseball pundits to list the best managers in the game today and you’ll likely hear a similar set of names. Among them, you’ll always find Ron Gardenhire.
His consistent mention with baseball’s best is a reflection of his consistent success in the game itself. Gardy is the second-longest tenured manager in the American League, and with good reason.
Much like Angels manager Mike Scioscia’s award-winning performance last year, Gardenhire overcame Spring Training injuries and a sluggish start to capture another AL Central crown and challenge both the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays for the best record in baseball.
Texas skipper Ron Washington will also get plenty of attention from voters, but it is Gardenhire’s ability to overcome the small market label in Minnesota and consistently field a competitive team that should help him stand above the rest.
Featured writer: Zachary Ball
Entering the 2010 season on the verge of bankruptcy, with a rumored “cocaine addict” for a manager, and a reformed “druggie” as the team leader, not many expected the Texas Rangers to stake their claim as the best team in the American League.
And yet, there they were, on September 25th, celebrating the Rangers return to the playoffs, their first bid in 11 years. And the one man relishing it the most, and perhaps the one most responsible for turning this team into a bunch of winners, wasn’t potential American League MVP Josh Hamilton, or even potential American League Cy Young winner Cliff Lee. Rather, it was unassuming (except for that cocaine charge) manger Ron Washington.
Not only did he led the Rangers to only their fourth postseason appearance in the team’s 50th year, but he also turned a group of rag-tag players into one of the most potent offensive units in all of baseball.
When Washington took over after the 2006 season, no one could have foreseen what this team from Texas would become. Since then, he has improved the team’s record each year, culminating in a 90-win season in 2010, as the Rangers finally dethroned the Angels, who had a decade-long stranglehold on the American League West.
1. Ron Washington, Rangers—87 (11)
2. Ron Gardenhire, Twins—72 (9)
3. Joe Maddon, Rays—61 (7)
4. Terry Francona, Rangers—31 (3)
5. Buck Showalter, Orioles—13 (1)
6. Joe Girardi, Yankees—7
7. Cito Gaston, Blue Jays—2
Voting on a 5-3-1 basis. First-place votes are in parentheses.
|AL Gold Gloves||October 25|
|NL Gold Gloves||October 26|
|AL Silver Sluggers||October 27|
|NL Silver Sluggers||October 28|
|AL Comeback Player of the Year||November 1|
|NL Comeback Player of the Year||November 2|
|AL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year||November 3|
|NL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year||November 4|
|AL Rookie of the Year||November 8|
|NL Rookie of the Year||November 9|
|AL Manager of the Year||November 10|
|NL Manager of the Year||November 11|
|AL Cy Young||November 15|
|NL Cy Young||November 16|
|AL Most Valuable Player||November 17|
|NL Most Valuable Player||November 18