As a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance I get the privilege of voting on all of the regular season awards in addition to the Hall of Fame and other great awards. The Manager of the Year Award, or The Connie Mack Award as the BBA calls it, is a tough one to quantify but fellow member and great writer Bryan O’Connor came up with a method that I will no-doubt be using heavily when I vote on this award.
Basically what Bryan did was take a look at the final standings and his preseason prediction standings and the manager that exceeded his own win-loss expectation is who he voted for. I find this method brilliant and it will now be a part of my method in deciding the Connie Mack Award every year. But it will not be my sole method.
If I solely used this method then I have to assume all managers played under the circumstances that I predicted back in the spring. That is hardly the case, though. I did not predict superstars such as Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Kemp, Roy Halladay, Jose Bautista, or Jacoby Ellsbury to miss extended periods of time due to injury. My predictions were based on the assumption that these players would play at least 140 games for their teams. A manager such as Joe Maddon or Bobby Valentine had to manage through some very trying times and get the best out of replacement level players. It worked for one manager, who narrowly missed the playoffs, while the other manager lost his job. Simply using the +/- system for my ballot would exclude the great managerial year Maddon had because I predicted his team to win 95 games.
This method will rarely award a manager that I may have predicted to make the playoffs because that manager will either yield a negative win differential or, if lucky, get a single-digit positive win differential. What if Joe Maddon met my exact expectations and won three more games despite his best player only starting 49 games in the field and playing in only 74 total games? Maddon justifiably deployed the infield shift as good and as often as any manager in the game, put Ben Zobrist at shortstop where he would flourish, and managed with one of the games lowest payrolls. Should I discredit the great job he did because he scored a -3 based on my preseason predictions? Maybe not.
Funny thing is, though, that the win-differential method yielded the same ballot I put together prior to crunching those numbers, rendering my last ranting paragraph moot. Joe Maddon would have placed fourth on my ballot in the AL and Mike Matheny would have placed 4th in the NL. Both managers had stars hit the disabled list for extended periods of time and nearly led their team to the playoffs. They deserve to get more attention for the j0bs they did this year.
Here are my ballots for the Connie Mack Award:
AL Manager of the Year:
1. Buck Showalter (BAL) +33
2. Bob Melvin (OAK) +16
3. Robin Ventura (CHW) +13
NL Manager of the Year:
1. Don Mattingly (LAD) +21
2. Bruce Bochy (SF) +11
3. Davey Johnson (WAS) +10
The only name I feel I must justify is Don Mattingly. The Dodgers came in with a nine-digit payroll of mostly aging veterans and replacement level players. They spent money in free agency on guys like Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston Jr., and Juan Rivera. I honestly thought the team would be a joke. They proved me wrong. Not only did Mattingly make the Dodgers contenders with aging veterans but he lost Matt Kemp for 50+ games, Kenley Jansen missed nearly a month, and Dee Gordon missed 100+ games and was a disappointment when on the field. Yes, Mattingly received help near and after the trade deadline but he contended while playing the above names and James Loney on a regular basis. I had this team finishing in last and they almost made the playoffs and that is why Mattingly deserves the top spot on my ballot.
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and the Florida Marlins at ESPN’s SweetSpot site Marlins Daily. You can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis Tagged: | Baltimore Orioles, BBA, Bob Melvin, Bruce Bochy, Buck Showalter, Chicago White Sox, Connie Mack Award, Davey Johnson, Don Mattingly, Joe Maddon, Los Angeles Dodgers, Manager of the Year, Mike Matheny, Oakland A's, Oakland Athletics, Robin Ventura, San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals