Rocco Baldelli Wins 2019 AL Manager of Year Award over Aaron Boone, Kevin Cash

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2019

Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli talks to a coach during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

One season at the helm and one American League Manager of the Year.

That is the resume for Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who won the award Tuesday. He defeated fellow finalists Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees and Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays in a formidable field of contenders.

According to the Baseball Writers Association of America, Baldelli and Boone each received 13 first-place votes. However, Baldelli's 13 second-place votes to Boone's nine proved to be the difference.

The Twins were one of the biggest disappointments in the American League in 2018 and struggled with consistency at 78-84 after making the playoffs in 2017. They responded by hiring Baldelli as a first-year manager, and all he did was lead Minnesota to its first American League Central title since 2010.

The 38-year-old's team also finished with the second-most wins in franchise history at 101, with only the 1965 Twins winning more games (102). 

Minnesota edged out the Cleveland Indians for the division and battled with typical powerhouses such as the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros by relying on the long ball. They drilled an MLB-record 307 home runs during the regular season.

While Baldelli's Twins ultimately fell short in an American League Division Series loss to the Yankees, they were one of the best stories of the season and set records under a first-year manager who wasted no time making an impression.

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Baldelli had plenty of competition for the award.

Cash led the Rays to a 96-66 record and AL Wild Card Game victory over the Oakland Athletics while remaining competitive in a division that features typical powerhouses in the Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Boone directed the Yankees to a 103-59 record and American League Championship Series appearance despite missing Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Miguel Andujar, Jacoby Ellsbury, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks, James Paxton, Troy Tulowitzki and Didi Gregorius, among others, for various stretches because of injuries.

Yet, it was Baldelli who took home the award, underscoring his ability to manage against opponents with more resources and adjust on the fly with no prior experience.

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