MLB Manager of the Year 2019: AL and NL Winners, Voting Results and Reaction

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistNovember 13, 2019

Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli returns to the dugout after a mound visit against the Oakland Athletics in a baseball game Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

In close races in both leagues, Rocco Baldelli of the Minnesota Twins and Mike Shildt of the St. Louis Cardinals were named American League and National League Managers of the Year, respectively.

Baldelli became the first Minnesota Twins skipper to be named American League Manager of the Year since 2010. 

Per the official BBWAA voting, Baldelli's 106 total points edged out runner-up Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees (96 points). Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays finished in a distant third place with three first-place votes and 33 total points.  

Baldelli and Boone each received 13 first-place votes, but Baldelli pulled ahead thanks to a 13-9 advantage in second-place votes.  

Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch received the other first-place vote en route to finishing fifth in the overall voting. 

The Twins have now produced three AL Manager of the Year winners since the award's inception in 1983. Tom Kelly (1991) and Ron Gardenhire (2010) did it before Baldelli. 

Boone and Cash both had excellent cases for the award. The former had to navigate a historic run of injuries to his team as the Yankees won 103 games and the American League East for the first time since 2012. 

Cash took a Rays team that had the lowest payroll in MLB ($54.3 million) to the postseason with 96 wins, tied for the second-most in a season in franchise history. They also went long stretches without key contributors due to injuries, including Austin Meadows, Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Yandy Diaz. 

Despite that stiff competition, Baldelli's accomplishments with the Twins proved to be too great to overlook. 

When Minnesota hired Baldelli in October 2018, he became the youngest manager in MLB at 37 years old. A former first-round draft pick by the Rays, his career was cut short due to injuries and he transitioned into a coaching role with the organization. 

Expectations were modest for Baldelli and the Twins heading into 2019. He had no previous managerial experience and they were coming off a 78-84 record the previous year. 

Thanks to a few shrewd moves by the front office, led by signing Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop, and Baldelli's knowledge, the Twins turned into one of the baseball's most pleasant surprises this season. They set a new MLB record with 307 homers, won 101 games and the AL Central for the first time since 2010. 

Minnesota's future is very bright thanks to a talented roster of young players, including Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco. Baldelli is the man steering the ship in the dugout and proved himself to be among the best in the sport right out of the gate. 

In his first full season season leading the Cardinals, Mike Shildt edged out Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers and Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves to win the award. 

Per BBWAA.org, Shildt won despite having fewer first-place votes (10) than Counsell (13). He finished with 14 second-place votes and 95 total points to Counsell's six second-place votes and 88 total points. Snitker came in third with 45 points. 

Shildt is the third Cardinals skipper to receive this honor, joining Whitey Herzog in 1985 and Tony La Russa in 2002. 

St. Louis named Shildt its interim manager in July 2018 after firing Mike Matheny. The 51-year-old finished that season strong with a 41-28 record and had his interim tag removed. 

After missing the playoffs in the previous three seasons, the Cardinals made bold moves last winter to compete in the NL Central. They acquired Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks and signed Andrew Miller to boost their bullpen depth. 

A slow first half left the Cardinals with a 44-44 record, two games behind the Chicago Cubs in the division race. The All-Star break unlocked the full potential for Shildt and St. Louis, as the team went 47-27 in the second half to win the NL Central for the first time since 2015. 

One of the most notable differences in St. Louis under Shildt has been a stronger emphasis on defense. The team went from a solid 13th in FanGraphs defensive value in 2018 to third in that category and defensive runs saved (95) in 2019.

The Cardinals were a rudderless ship for a long time prior to Shildt's arrival. He got them back on track right away, reaping the rewards on the field with a trip to the NLCS before being named the best manager in the Senior Circuit.  

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