MLB Manager of the Year Winners 2011: AL & NL Results, Reaction and Analysis

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MLB Manager of the Year Winners 2011: AL & NL Results, Reaction and Analysis
Photo courtesy aftermidnite.com

On Wednesday afternoon, MLB released the voting results for the AL and NL Manager of the Year awards, and quite frankly, neither was considered breaking news.

American League

1. Joe Maddon - Tampa Bay Rays

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When the Tampa Bay Rays started their season losing their first six games, it really wasn't much of a surprise, given the fact that the Rays had lost Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, Rafael Soriano and Carl Crawford, and their biggest offseason acquisition, Manny Ramirez, abruptly retired from baseball rather than face a 100-game suspension for a second violation of baseball's drug policy.

However, Maddon and the Rays refused to cave, and even when they were nine games out of the playoff race at the beginning of September, Maddon refused to give in to what was believed at the time a snowball's chance in hell of making the playoffs.

Well, hell did freeze over, in part thanks to an epic collapse by the Boston Red Sox, but also because Maddon refused to allow his team to give up.

Make no mistake about it, the Rays are indeed Maddon's team, and once again, he got his troops to buy into his faith and his exuberance.

The baseball writers believed in Maddon as well, giving him 26 of 28 first-place votes and 133 points overall.

 

2. Jim Leyland - Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers took a little while to get going in 2011, and for the first half of the season, they were looking up at the surprising Cleveland Indians.

However, Leyland and the Tigers finally got going, with a whole lot of help from Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander.

Leyland had to deal with issues at second base, third base and right field for much of the season, as Magglio Ordonez and his ankle issues, Carlos Guillen's injuries and Brandon Inge's horrible hitting slump forced Leyland to continually alter his lineups.

Leyland's shuffling worked, and despite losing Brennan Boesch at the end of the season, Leyland guided his Tigers to their first division title since 1987.

Leyland received one first-place vote and 54 points overall.

 

3. Ron Washington - Texas Rangers

Once again, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington showed how skillful he is, guiding his team to the World Series for the second consecutive season.

Washington guided the Rangers to a 96-66 record, the best in franchise history, taking the AL West by 10 games over the Los Angeles Angels.

Washington received the other first-place vote and 31 points overall.

 

4. Manny Acta - Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians were picked by most prognosticators to finish at or near the bottom of the AL Central division in 2011.

But manager Manny Acta had his young charges, especially his pitching staff, believing in themselves, and for the better part of the first half of the season, the Indians were leading the way in the AL Central.

Eventually, the offense was unable to mount a consistent attack and the starting pitching faltered. However, the Indians finished in second place behind the Detroit Tigers, and with a strong young nucleus, Acta and the Indians could very well be here to stay for a while.

Acta received 16 points overall.

 

5. Joe Girardi - New York Yankees

The New York Yankees finished with the best record in the American League at 97-65, and won the American League East division for the second time under the guidance of manager Joe Girardi.

Girardi has taken the Yankees to the playoffs for three straight seasons, and his steady hand and leadership, while no doubt at times questioned by passionate Yankee fans, has been a welcome sight in New York after the departure of the popular Joe Torre.

Girardi received 14 points overall.

 

6. Mike Scioscia- Los Angeles Angels

Considering that the Los Angeles Angels had virtually no consistent offensive attack, and yet still stuck in the race for the AL West title for much of the season, it shouldn't be surprising that manager Mike Scioscia got at least a few votes.

With the AL's best pitching staff, posting an overall ERA of 3.57, Scioscia constantly shuffled a lineup that saw virtually no offense from the catching position, a year-long slump by first-year Angel Vernon Wells and no player with over 90 RBI or 30 home runs.

Scioscia received four points overall.

 

National League

1. Kirk Gibson - Arizona Diamondbacks

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I really have to wonder how Arizona Diamondbacks manager Gibson did not win the NL Manager of the Year award unanimously.

Gibson, in his first full year on the job, took a team that lost 97 games the previous year and catapulted them to the top of the NL West, finishing with a 94-68 record and easily outdistancing the San Francisco Giants by eight games.

Gibson started the season by giving his team a pep talk using Navy SEALs in spring training to motivate his troops. The team bought into Gibson's approach and vision immediately, and D-Backs president Derrick Hall was effusive in his praise of the skipper.

"He won't say it, but I will," Hall said earlier this month. "He deserves to be NL Manager of the Year. What most people don't know about Kirk Gibson is how intelligent he is. Everyone talks about how great he is, how competitive he is, but they don't realize just how intellectual and prepared he is. He's a strategist; he's a few steps ahead of most people."

Gibson received 28 of 32 first-place votes and 152 points overall.

 

2. Ron Roenicke - Milwaukee Brewers

If it weren't for a guy by the name of Kirk Gibson, Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke would have been this year's clear choice for NL Manager of the Year. But, second place isn't too shabby for a first-year manager.

Roenicke, who took the reins of the Brewers during the offseason after spending several years as bench coach for Mike Scioscia and the Los Angeles Angels, guided the Brewers to a 96-66 record and the franchise's first division title since 1982.

Dealing with a new team in his first year was certainly difficult enough, however Roenicke was also dealing with several players who were also playing for Milwaukee for the first time as well (Zack Greinke, Shawn Marcum), and Roenicke guided his new team and players with a clear vision and a steady hand.

Roenicke received three first-place votes and 92 points overall.

 

3. Tony La Russa - St. Louis Cardinals

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There are many people who believe managing a team is easy when you have a mega superstar by the name of Albert Pujols leading the offense. They would be mistaken.

Manager Tony La Russa may have had his biggest task yet in his 33 years of managing at the major league level. In late August, the Cardinals were 10.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the race for the National League wild-card.

Winning 23 of their last 31 games, the Cardinals overtook the Braves on the dramatic last day of the regular season to win the wild card on their way to winning the 2011 World Series.

Definitely a pretty good way for La Russa to go out.

La Russa received one first-place vote and 24 votes overall.

 

4. Charlie Manuel - Philadelphia Phillies

Manned with a starting rotation that many compared to the 1971 Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel guided his team to a franchise-best 102 victories, also the most in the majors in 2011, winning the NL East by 13 games over the Atlanta Braves.

It was the fifth straight division title for Manuel and the Phillies, the longest such streak in franchise history as well.

Manuel received seven third-place votes and 10 points overall.

 

5. Fredi Gonzalez- Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves first-year manager Fredi Gonzalez was replacing a legend in Atlanta in Bobby Cox, so there was certainly pressure to leave a good first impression.

Gonzalez certainly seemed to be doing that, as the Braves seemed firmly implanted as the wild card selection in the National League in late August. However, the Braves lost 20 of their last 30 games en route to being eliminated from playoff contention on the last day of the regular season.

No doubt Gonzalez would have probably finished a bit higher on this list if it weren't for that damned collapse.

Gonzalez received four third-place votes and four points overall.

 

6. Bruce Bochy - San Francisco Giants

No one doubted the San Francisco Giants' chances of making the postseason in 2011, especially after their 2010 World Series victory, the franchise's first in 54 years.

However. despite a pitching staff that was considered one of the elite staffs in all of baseball, the Giants struggled to score runs. In fact, no one scored less runs in baseball than the Giants.

Yet, Bochy kept his team in the NL West race for much of the season, despite season-ending injuries to Freddy Sanchez and Buster Posey, and sub-par seasons from 2010 postseason heroes Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross.

Bochy received two third-place votes and two points overall.

 

7. Clint Hurdle - Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates have not been relevant in terms of competing for the postseason for 19 seasons. In fact, the Pirates hadn't even had a winning season during that time.

However in late July, first-year manager Clint Hurdle had his Bucs in first place, and the team became buyers at the trade deadline for the first time since 1992.

However reality finally set in, as the pitching imploded and the offense eventually sputtered, sending the Pirates to another losing season. But there is hope finally in Pittsburgh, with a good young nucleus of players (Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata) and a manager who has worked to change the culture of losing.

Hurdle received two third-place votes and two points overall.

 

8. Terry Collins - New York Mets

First-year manager Terry Collins certainly had to deal with a lot of turmoil in his first year as skipper of the New York Mets.

With the controversy surrounding owners Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz and the Bernie Madoff scandal, the almost year-long discussion about Jose Reyes and his pending free-agent status, and constant trade rumors surrounding franchise third baseman David Wright, it's a wonder that Collins was able to keep a cool head. Well, for the most part anyway.

The Mets finished the season 77-85, but for Collins, just getting through the season with all he had to deal with was a victory.

Collins received one first-place vote.

 

9. Don Mattingly - Los Angeles Dodgers

Much like his counterpart in New York, Los Angeles Dodgers first-year manager Don Mattingly certainly had his share of noise going on all around him all season.

With MLB assuming control of day-to-day operations in late April, the team entering bankruptcy shortly afterward, and all of the news concerning the ongoing battle between MLB commissioner Bud Selig and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, Mattingly must have wondered why in the world he even took the job in the first place.

However, Mattingly did an incredible job keeping all of the background controversy out of the clubhouse, guiding his Dodgers to an 82-79 record and a third place finish in the NL West.

Mattingly received one third-place vote.

 

Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.

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