THE AWARD TOUR: 2014 Connie Mack MLB Managers Of The Year

Posted: October 30, 2014 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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As a part of my annual duties as a member of the Baseball Blogger Alliance of America, I submit my picks for Major League Baseball’s annual award parade via a series of entries here in the Cheap Seats. Without further delay, it is time to begin this year’s round up as I see fit.

 

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2014 Connie Mack American League Manager of the Year—Buck Showalter

Keeping the boat steady without one of your most pivotal players is a tough, yet expected job for any Major League Manager. In an extreme case, even two of them. However, being able to do that while continuing to both lose talent, but rise up the standings is the divider mark between a good and great manager. It is safe to say to say that Buck Showalter is firmly established in the fraternity of extraordinary managers in the game today.

In a year where the Baltimore Orioles lost no less than catcher Matt Wieters, third baseman Manny Machado and first baseman Chris Davis, all either current or just a year removed All-Stars, Showalter produced his finest finish in the Orange and Black thus far. He managed to guide the Orioles to their first division championship in 18 years—and by a 12 game margin. It was the largest margin of victory for an American League East crown since 2001.

However, the loss of those standard bearers for the team was far from the only situation that he kept the wheels of the club moving forward with, in spite of other malfunctions. When original closer Tommy Hunter proved not to be up to chops, he handed the job to a formerly middling starter in Zack Britton, who went on to become one of the most effective ninth inning men in the game.

As always, he fearlessly blend his full pitching staff into one cohesive unit that was able to thrive despite not having a clear cut frontline starter amongst them. As a team, the Baltimore pitching staff’s 3.43 team ERA was third best in the AL, while as individual units the starting and relief staffs both finished with top five ERAs.

Buck’s all in approach carried over to the everyday lineup as well, where he was able to pull a prolific team offense out of his depleted troops. While it is easy to “stick with” Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz, he used Steve Pearce, Delmon Young, Alejandro De Aza and Nick Hundley in vital spots to make up for the everyday impact losses.

All things considered, Showalter won because knew his guys and put a blend of them together that was not quite the B team, but it is beyond fair to say their final result was far greater than it should have been. But it was Showalter who made all the difference in nearly B team turning out a grade A result.

Runner Up 1: Mike Scioscia, Angels

Runner Up 2: Terry Francona, Indians

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2014 Connie Mack National League Manager of the Year—Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants

Bruce Bochy is not new to the elite manager scene. After all, he’s won more World Series than any other active manager in baseball and is the longest tenured skipper in senior circuit, having guided the San Francisco Giants since 2006. Yet while many other managers have their names brought up more frequently as the best in the business at guiding the game, there have been few that have done as concisely good of a job as Bochy has. And his 2014 campaign may be his greatest feat to date.

Saddled with a banged up team, that was paired with one of the league’s powerhouse collections of talent as their direct competition within their division, the Bochy’s boys weathered a several storms to stay among the top teams in the National League and put themselves in position for yet another run to October glory.

Coming out the gates, the Giants took the NL West by its neck, jumping out to as large as a 10 game lead in the division at one point. But when injuries took Angel Pagan, Brandon Belt and Michael Morse from their everyday lineup, as well as Matt Cain from their starting rotation, that gap was not only narrowed by their rivals in LA, they were passed by.

However, that is when the ever-present guiding hand of Bochy really bared down and made his presence known. Pulling up rookie Joe Panic gave the team a spark it had missed since the loss of Pagan, while the combination of Yusmeiro Petit and Jake Peavy brought the annually tough Giant pitching staff back to life. Trusting rookie Hunter Strickland and handling the full-time closer reins to Santiago Casilla steadied the bullpen, and before long the Giants were finding themselves back in the thick of the postseason race.

These complimentary moves aided by the well timed surges from Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner in the second half made the Giants one of the best teams in baseball in August and September, propelling them into the postseason on a great trajectory to add a third title in five years for his personal trophy case. But it was Bochy who was able to guide his club through a number of identity shifts, peaks and valleys, with the steady hand that has become his standard.

Runner Up 1: Clint Hurdle, Pirates

Runner Up 2: Matt Williams, Nationals

 

Past Votes:

2013: Clint Hurdle (Pirates), John Farrell (Red Sox)

2012: Davey Johnson (Nationals), Buck Showalter (Orioles)

2011: Kirk Gibson (Diamondbacks), Joe Maddon (Rays)

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