Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Fredi Gonzalez isn't getting near enough attention for the incredible job he's doing of managing the Atlanta Braves. Sure, the team was chock full of talent when he arrived at the beginning of this season, but he has still done a great job.
His shortshop is 13 years older than his first baseman, who turns 22 later this summer. Two of his starting pitchers are 35 and 38, while the other three are younger than 26. His closer is 23. His third baseman is 39.
Obviously, there's a bit of an age gap with many of the key players. If the Braves were underperforming, we'd be calling it a bad mixture of young and old. Instead, because of Gonzalez's mastery of bridging the gap, we're calling it a wonderful blend of energy and experience.
Gonzalez made the tough (and at the time controversial) call of naming Jonny Venters the eighth inning set-up man after a lights out 2010 season. Craig Kimbrel has racked up 27 saves and proven Gonzalez to be a genius.
He has led his team to victories despite having to play back ups at every outfield position for a couple weeks, playing the part of psychiatrist for Dan Uggla, and having to balance his starting rotation with timely prospects when Tim Hudson or Tommy Hanson missed a start.
But most of all, he has made the retirement of Bobby Cox, a great manager, a non-issue in 2011. He's the NL Manager of the Year after the second half.