Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo and Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor oversaw two of MLB's biggest turnarounds. On Tuesday night, the Baseball Writers' Association of America rewarded them with Manager of the Year honors in the their respective leagues.
Molitor edged out Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona in the American League, with 18 first-place votes to Francona's 11. The National League voting was a rout, as Lovullo collected 18 of the 30 first-place votes with no one else grabbing more than five.
Below are the full results from both leagues.
American League Voting
1. Paul Molitor (112 points)
2. Terry Francona (90 points)
3. A.J. Hinch, Houston Astros (56 points)
4. Joe Girardi, New York Yankees (12 points)
National League Voting
1. Torey Lovullo, Arizona Diamondbacks (111 points)
2. Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers (55 points)
3. Bud Black, Colorado Rockies (43 points)
4. Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers (33 points)
5. Dusty Baker, Washington Nationals (25 points)
6. Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs (three points)
At 59-103, the Twins were the worst team in baseball in 2016. The year was a massive disappointment after the team showed some promise in 2015.
This past season, the Twins' potential started coming good as Minnesota won 85 games and reached the American League wild-card game, which it lost 8-4 to the New York Yankees. By doing so, the Twins made history, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
Molitor also joins select company, per MLB.com's Andrew Simon:
MLB.com's Richard Justice tweeted how much has changed for Molitor over the last six months:
"It's humbling really," Molitor said of winning Manager of the Year during an interview on MLB Network. "... An award like this is certainly a reflection of the organization, the work that my coaches and players put in."
There's no reason not to expect more from Molitor and the Twins in 2018. Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler are all in their mid-20s and entering their prime playing years.
Jose Berrios also looked much more like a top-end starting pitcher after a disastrous rookie season in which he had an 8.02 ERA in 14 starts. He went 14-8 with a 3.89 ERA in 26 appearances in 2017.
Baseball Prospectus' Aaron Gleeman noted the connection between the two Manager of the Year winners:
The Diamondbacks fired Chip Hale after going 69-93 in 2016. Kirk Gibson's tenure ended in similarly disappointing fashion. In the five seasons after winning 94 games and reaching the National League Division Series in 2011, the Diamondbacks registered an average of nearly 75 games.
In his Lovullo's first year at the helm, the Diamondbacks went 93-69 and defeated the Colorado Rockies in the National League wild-card game before falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS.
As ESPN Stats & Info noted, Arizona experienced the most improvement in the National League:
MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince followed Lovullo's managerial career through the minors and wasn't surprised to see him enjoy so much success in 2017:
"It speaks for itself when you get separated from a field like I did," Lovullo said of his win in an interview on MLB Network. "There's a lot of great candidates."
Lovullo is the third Diamondbacks manager to receive the honor. Gibson was Manager of the Year in 2011, and Bob Melvin earned the distinction in 2007.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Rockies manager Bud Black were the other two NL finalists. Both watched the award announcement at Roberts' home, so they at least had company to help rebound from failing to collect the Manager of the Year award.
The fact Lovullo, Roberts and Black all managed in the National League West illustrates the division's overall strength. The race for the West should be among the most entertaining division battles in 2018.
The same goes for the American League Central. Francona finished runner-up to Molitor despite the Indians winning 102 games and reeling off a historic 22-game winning streak.
In 2016, Cleveland claimed the Central title by eight games over the Detroit Tigers and followed up by taking the division by 17 games over the Twins. Given the strides made by Minnesota, the Indians should have some more competition in 2018.