The National League Manager of the Year vote was actually determined all the way back on Aug. 10. That was when the Arizona Diamondbacks moved into first place in the NL West and Kirk Gibson was dusting off a spot on his shelf next to his 1988 MVP award.
The biggest difference, however, between the Manager of the Year award and the MVP award is that Gibson actually deserves this one.
No one had any expectations for the Diamondbacks in 2011. They were coming off a season in which they won 65 games and finished in last place in the division. They were in full-on rebuilding mode and were not supposed to contend for at least another three years.
Wins and losses are not the best way to evaluate a manager; the fact that the Diamondbacks finished with 94 wins and ran away with the division only helps Gibson's cause.
Gibson is a great tactical manager and put his team in a position to win. Managers like Tony La Russa, while they get praise for making a bunch of moves during a game, actually hurt their team in the regular season. Gibson never did that with the Diamondbacks.
An MVP-caliber season from Justin Upton certainly helped Gibson look good, but the fact that he was able to get the most out of a team that, quite frankly, was not the most talented, made him a shoo-in for this award.
You can make a case that, on paper, the Diamondbacks were the fourth-best team in the division before the season. For this team to win 94 games and make its first playoff appearance since 2007 is a testament to the job that Gibson and his staff did.
There were really no other strong contenders in the National League this year.
We mentioned La Russa and the bang-up job he did. However, save the World Series comments for someone else because this is a regular-season award, and La Russa did more to cost the Cardinals games this season than he did to help them.
Milwaukee Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke is a terrible strategist and the team won despite the job that he did.
Philadelphia Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel should be given more credit for the job he has done with that team, but the fact that they have the best pitching staff in the game likely hurt him in the voters' eyes.
Regardless, this award belongs to Gibson. He was the best in the National League all season long and deserves to be called "Manager of the Year."
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