The 2017 Manager of the Year Award winners for both the American and National League will be announced at 6:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday based on voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. TSN.ca takes a look at the six nominees and what they did to get their teams to the playoffs.
Francona led the Cleveland Indians to an AL-best 102 wins and a division title for the second year in a row. The club’s 55-20 record after the All-Star Break was by far the best in baseball and included a 22-game winning streak, the second longest in MLB history.
Despite a successful eight-year tenure with the Boston Red Sox that included two World Series wins, Francona’s two Manager of the Year wins (2013, 2016) have come with the Indians. He is looking to become the first back-to-back winner since Atlanta’s Bobby Cox in 2004 and 2005.
The Indians came into the season with some of the highest hopes around baseball after the signing of slugger Edwin Encarnacion on the heels of their World Series appearance, so their success could be tempered by expectations. The AL Central was also a largely underwhelming division in 2017, with the Minnesota Twins finishing as the only other club with a winning record.
This season saw the Houston Astros have their second-best regular season in franchise history with 101 wins. They overcame extended injury stints of Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Correa and George Springer, winning the AL West by a whopping 21 games. Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath didn’t make things easy, either.
The Astros were expected to contend going into the season, but an improvement of 17 wins and a playoff berth should work in Hinch’s favour after a disappointing campaign a season ago.
Unfortunately for Hinch, the Astros’ World Series victory will not enter into consideration for the regular season award. Should Hinch win, he will join elite company, becoming just the ninth manager ever to win the World Series in the same year he won the award.
The 2016 season was a dismal one for the Minnesota Twins, finishing at 59-103. But things turned around – and then some – in 2017.
Molitor guided the Twins to a record of 85-77 and their first playoff appearance since 2010, becoming the first team to ever make the playoffs following a 100-loss season. Their success came in spite of a mediocre pitching staff that had an ERA of 4.59, well above MLB-average of 4.37.
Another thing to consider – the Twins were sellers at the trade deadline. General manager Thad Levine traded closer Brandon Kintzler and starter Jaimie Garcia after losing six of seven games, giving Molitor even less to work with.
Dave Roberts is looking to win his second Manager of the Year award in as many years after taking the Los Angeles Dodgers to the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Their win total of 104 was baseball’s best and was the franchise’s highest since the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers.
The results speak for themselves. The only blip on the radar was a losing streak of 11 in a row near the end of the season that all but ended their chance to threaten the MLB record for most wins in a season set by the Seattle Mariners in 2001.
If Roberts were to take home the hardware, he would vault the Dodgers into a tie for second with the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos for the most Manager of the Year Award winners. The Chicago White Sox lead baseball with five.
One interesting note: Roberts and Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black will watch the award ceremony together at Roberts’ California home according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were one of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season and their record of 93-69 marked their first winning record since 2011.
Their success coincided with the arrival of the former Toronto Blue Jays’ first base coach in the off-season. He was hired to take over for Chip Hale after the Diamondbacks failed to make the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.
The highlight of the D-Backs’ season might have been a 13-game winning streak late in the season that included six wins over the Dodgers, quelling notions of a second-half collapse.
While much of Arizona’s success had to do with the acquisition of outfielder J.D. Martinez and the reemergence of Zack Greinke as ace of the staff, Lovullo deserves a lot of the credit for his team’s turnaround.
In his first season with the Colorado Rockies, Black guided the Rockies to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Black doesn’t have the most impressive managerial record over the course of his career, sporting a career winning percentage of .483. But nine of his 10 seasons were spent with the San Diego Padres, who lacked both talent and payroll flexibility during his tenure.
Now that Black finally has some talent to work with, he’s made the most of it. Like many other managers up for the award, his team had a complete turnaround from 2016. The Rockies finished at 87-75, their first winning record since 2010.
While the Rockies have always had one of the top offences in baseball, the performance of the starting staff helps Black’s case.