November 16, 2011
For the matter of public record, let it be known that Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays and Kirk Gibson of the Arizona Diamondbacks were named the 2011 AL and NL Manager of the Year on Wednesday. I mention the public record part because you will almost surely forget who won this year's awards when next year's recipients are announced and it will be nice to have a post for the index of your inevitable Internet inquiry. (To save you some time, last year's winners were Ron Gardenhire and Bud Black.)
That's not to discount either man or the job he pulled off this season. Maddon led a late-charging Rays team into the postseason without the benefit of a big payroll or several key contributors from the 2010 AL East title team while Gibson jump-started a revival of the D-Backs a year or two earlier than expected. They both deserve the trophy they'll get.
The quibbles, of course, come with the nature of the award. Without a reliable metric for managing, it's hard to measure one man against the other. That's the nature of the position, but it also leads to an award that allows for fleeting recognition. Which is to say no skipper will ever be remembered for a single campaign as much as a MVP might. It's all part of what is probably the most thankless job in sports.
What I find interesting about Wednesday's results is that you could take this post from last year, replace Bruce Bochy's name with Tony La Russa's and have another good piece wondering if someone got robbed because only the regular season is considered when voting. Not that Gibby wasn't deserving, but didn't La Russa do the same thing for the St. Louis Cardinals (albeit with Albert Pujols(notes) and Lance Berkman(notes)) that Maddon did for the Rays this season? The postseason is a small sample size, yes, but perhaps it can serve as a good tiebreaker when we're talking about an award that largely — though not always — requires a playoff spot for consideration.