If we told you in April what Bob Melvin and the Oakland Athletics would do during the 2018 season, you wouldn’t have believed it. That they’d surpass every single expectation, challenge for the AL West title, win close to 100 games and make the playoffs.
But it happened. All of it. And now, Melvin is the AL Manager of the Year for the third time in his career.
Melvin received 18 of the 30 first-place votes for the 2018 award, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced Tuesday as part of MLB awards week. Boston Red Sox skipper Alex Cora finished second with seven first-place votes and 11 second-place votes. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash was third with five first-place votes.
Here are the individual ballots, via the BBWAA:
Melvin previously won the award in 2007 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and 2012 with the A’s. He and Joe Maddon are the only active managers to win the award three times. So has Buck Showalter, the recently fired ex-Orioles manager. Only Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa — four times each — have won the award more.
An important reminder about voting: It only includes regular-season performance, so the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series had no bearing on voting. Still, the results here are sure to be sour for fans in Boston, who will say Cora deserved the award for his historic rookie season as Red Sox manager.
There was no bad case among the finalists. Cora’s case was built on winning a franchise-record 108 games and dominating the AL East in the regular season. Cash, meanwhile, managed a Rays team that hung pretty well in the AL East against the Yankees and Red Sox despite not anywhere near the talent or money. Cash and the Rays dove into the “bullpenning” idea headfirst, traded Chris Archer mid-season and had the second-lowest payroll in MLB, yet still managed to win 90 games.
In the end, what Melvin and the A’s did was just viewed by voters as a bigger achievement — and the more surprising one, which is often where voters lean with this award. Melvin had the lowest payroll in baseball but his team won 97 games. He had an injury-depleted roster that didn’t have a single pitcher from its opening day rotation by the end of the season. Instead, the A’s were depending on Edwin Jackson, Mike Fiers and Brett Anderson — and not just to eat innings but keep them in the postseason chase.
They’ve already made one movie about the A’s defying expectations. If they make another, it may just include Melvin winning Manager of the Year.
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