BBA Ballot: NL Manager of the Year


As part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, my job is to spout my opinion on end-of-season awards and make sure we kick the crap out of the BBWAA (they deserve it). I figure with the Marlins season over, the playoffs in heat, and most importantly, my deadlines approaching, I’d get us started with these awards.

The National League Manager of the Year

Managers are extremely difficult to quantify. For these awards, we generally consider teams that overachieve, but how much is that is luck, sequencing/timing, and other minute effects, and how much of that managerial? I could go into a long study on pen management and lineup optimization, but what’s more likely is that I’ll use those for/against the managers whose teams overachieved this year. On to the show, I suppose!

3. Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves

Truthfully, this slot would have gone to our favorite manager, Marlins skipper Fredi Gonzalez, but then I thought long and hard about it and decided that no manager deserves an award or even a mention (though I mentioned him anyway) if he starts a .280 wOBA player for 500 PA, the majority of them at the leadoff spot, which happens to be one of the three most important spots in the lineup. Cox, on the other hand, receives no significant demerits outside of playing Jeff Francoeur and moving Yuniel Escobar out of the second slot in the lineup, As you can see, neither of these are “playing Emilio Bonifacio.” It’s Cox by a hair.

2. Jim Tracy, Colorado Rockies

I guess sort of have to mention that Tracy pulled a Jack McKeon and brought Colorado from ten games under .500 (quite similar to what McKeon did) and “led” the team to the playoffs. Truthfully though, the club was probably just underperforming with Clint Hurdle and they happened to wake up with Tracy. That pitching staff was for real, and Colorado had the right guys like Carlos Gonzalez wake up and play well. Some of that may be Tracy, some of it may not be. And let’s not forget that Clint Barmes, the slappiest of slap hitters on Colorado, was moved up to the second spot in the lineup for 62 games under Tracy’s watch. That probably cost the team close to a win right there, especially with the club wasting a pretty solid bat in catcher Chris Ianetta at the bottom of the order. And Brad Hawpe getting playing time over Seth Smith, when Hawpe is a known butcher in the outfield. The team is lucky they have pitching.

1. Tony LaRussa, St. Louis Cardinals

I’m not the type to call LaRussa a genius, but he was one of the least error-prone managers in the NL this year. Sure, it seems hard to mess up a lineup when you have Albert Pujols, but he went with the better player in Colby Rasmus early in the year when it appeared Rick Ankiel had lost his luster (and rightfully so, since Rasmus is the better player). He did not bat a slappy hitter at the top of the lineup and instead got a guy in Skip Schumaker who was a decent hitter to hit there. There are minor issues with his common lineups, but they’re not terribly large. And he did a generally decent job matching his best pen guys to the right leverage situations, so there can be little complaint.

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Congratulations, Tony LaRussa! You did the least to mess things up!

A lot of the supposed good that happens in St. Louis gets also credited to Dave Duncan, so it’s even harder to say what LaRussa did to make his players better. What he did do was get a decent team, get a full season of Chris Carpenter, a surprise year from Joel Pineiro, and do nothing to mess that up. LaRussa wins!

National League Manager of the Year: Tony LaRussa, St. Louis Cardinals

Tags: Baseball Bloggers Alliance Fredi Gonzalez Tony LaRussa

  • http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog vivaelpujols

    Tony is not a good manager Michael. His team may have well played better than expected, but that is more attributable to Carpenter/Waino/Pineiro throwing up a combined ~15 WAR and great seasons from Pujols and Yadi. Tony is the man who gave Joe Thurston over 300 plate appearances this year, when literally any minor league scrub (like Allen Craig) could have done better. Ditto with Rick Ankiel, when it was pretty clear from the getgo that Rasmus was the better player.

    He was also a big factor in the Cardinals trading away Brett Wallace for Holliday, because he petitioned so hard for the team to acquire a “big bat”.

    I think the MOY is stupid because we really have no idea how much of an effect managers have; however, I would bet that Tony had a negative impact on the club in this season and going forward.

  • Michael Jong

    Nick,

    I’d agree with you with the general principle of the MoY award as bad, for the same reasons you state, and I defer to you for all things Cardinals. I would like to think that most other managers would have stuck with Ankiel, as he was the incumbent “veteran” and the team was around contention for most of the year, so I’d award points to LaRussa for that. Sure, we’d all like to have our managers put the right players in all the time, but that’s the way it turns out most of the time.

    The Thurston thing is damning, you’re right. Perhaps not as damning as what Marlins fans went through at our hot corner, but Thurston was pretty bad too. My ballot is “in,” so to speak, but perhaps in the future I should look for managers who didn’t screw it up, but that would give the ones who didn’t face injuries like the Glaus injury a head start. This sort of thing really is somewhat fruitless.

  • http://myteamrivals.typepad.com/marlins/ Ted

    Hi, I am a Marlins blogger over at My Team Rivals. I think Tony is a great manager, but his team also plays well. So he gets a little of both. He isn’t like a Joe Girardi, yet isn’t like a Mike Scioscia (or however you spell it.) Please stop by my blog.

  • http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog vivaelpujols

    “This sort of thing really is somewhat fruitless.”

    I know, it just kinda grinds my gears to see other smart guys like you, who are less familiar with the Cardinals, think that Tony is a good manager.

    He may very well be – his teams have always overperformed their projections; however, if you watched his moves on a consistent basis, you would probably turn to Alcoholism. I guess that’s the same with most managers though…

  • Michael Jong

    Nick,

    I know the feeling I suppose. Outside of Florida, Fredi Gonzalez is seen as a “good manager” because the team played so much above their salary, but no “good manager” would ever play a guy like Bonifacio for 500 PA.

    It’s a tough call, I’ll either have to do more research or give up. If only I could do a good WOWY for this.

  • http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog vivaelpujols

    Stupid confusing and hard to parse to SQL retrosheet!

  • Michael Jong

    No joke sir, no joke.

    Personally, I’m brand new to using it and have been struggling to make it do my bidding.