Brian Snitker Wins 2018 NL Manager of Year Award

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2018

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker smiles as he signs an autograph prior to a baseball game against the New York Mets on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Brian Snitker led the Atlanta Braves to the playoffs for the first time since the 2013 season and was rewarded with the 2018 National League Manager of the Year as a result.

Snitker won the award on Tuesday, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

MLB Network shared the voting results:

MLB Network @MLBNetwork

Here is how the voting shook out for the NL Manager of the Year. @officialBBWAA https://t.co/qOPAby8vOM

Atlanta named Snitker the interim manager in May 2016 after firing Fredi Gonzalez and removed the interim tag after he led the team to a 59-65 mark the rest of the season. The Braves improved by four wins in 2017 with a 72-90 record and took a significant leap as a young team this past season at 90-72.

The Braves were division winners in 14 out of 15 years from 1991 through 2005, but the 2018 campaign was just their second division title since that incredible run.

Players such as Ronald Acuna Jr., Mike Foltynewicz, Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis thrived under Snitker's leadership as the Braves outpaced the veteran-laden Washington Nationals and young Philadelphia Phillies throughout the season before losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series.

"It puts a smile on my face just talking about him," Freeman said of his manager, per Jason Foster of Sporting News. "He cares more about the person than the player, I feel like. He has your back, no matter what's going on."

The NL Manager of the Year isn't all Snitker's 2018 efforts earned him, as Mark Bowman of MLB.com reported the Braves inked him to a two-year contract extension with a 2021 option following the playoff loss.

Snitker has been in the organization since 1977 as a catcher in the farm system, minor league manager, third base coach and bullpen coach, but Bowman noted the manager thinks it was just the second time he was given a multiyear deal.

According to Bowman, general manager Alex Anthopoulos was impressed by Snitker's "willingness to occasionally show tough love and convey tough messages" while still maintaining the respect of his players. He pointed to times when he moved Markakis to left field and took Ender Inciarte out of a game for not running hard out of the batter's box.

"By the end of the season, Ender Inciarte is in [Snitker's] office telling him how great he is and how much he respects him," Anthopoulos said. "That's a hard thing to do: to be able to manage and to be able to handle those things."

Snitker will now be tasked with handling elevated expectations following the playoff appearance and this award.

The Braves' last World Series title came back in 1995, but there is a core in place to challenge for the Commissioner's Trophy under the National League's reigning Manager of the Year.