Tuesday afternoon will see the continuation of the 2017 MLB award period, with the AL and NL Managers of the Year being announced. These awards are usually given to the skipper of a team that exceeds its preseason expectations.
At the VORG, we don’t think that’s true to the spirit of the word “manager”. We want to see tangible evidence of … well, managing! We want our managers to order bunt and stolen base attempts. We want them to have to manipulate a LOT of players during the course of the year, because its EASY to pilot a squad with little in-season turnover. We want our managers to need new spikes from walking to and from the pitchers mound to get a fresh arm. We want them to WORK!
Thus, we present our unique version of the award. Each team’s managers were ranked within their respective league in such categories as relief appearances, sac bunt attempts, intentional walks given, etc. The “best” in each category received “1” ranking point, the worst received “15” ranking points. Total them all up, and the skipper with the lowest overall number is that league’s VORG MOTY.
Here’s some explanations for the categories:
- SBA: Stolen base attempts. Most base-stealers do NOT have a green light. The manager is responsible for initiating the attempt.
- PH: Pinch-hit plate appearance. Does a manager use his bench to get the supposed right batter in the game at the right time?
- Chal.: Challenges. Some managers put the video review folks through their paces.
- Def. Shifts: How often did you see the third baseman perched at second base, with the shortstop covering the entire left side of the infield? How many plate appearances saw a defensive shift employed by the manager/team?
- Def. Sub.: How often did the manager swap in a replacement on defense?
- POs: Pitchouts. Did the manager try and guess when the opposing team was running?
- PR: Pinch-runners used. Does the manager have an Ezequiel Carrera (17 pinch-running appearances in 2017) on his roster, and does he use him at an opportune moment?
- Att Sac.: Sacrifices attempted. It doesn’t matter if the attempt succeeded or not. Did the manager at least try?
- IBB: Intentional walks. Some managers eschew this tactic. Others love it and use it often.
- Rel.: Relief appearances. How many times did the manager (have to) make that roughly 75-foot stroll to the mound, raise one arm, take the ball from the pitcher, pat said pitcher on the ass, and greet the new moundsman.
- Def. Lineups: Total unique starting defensive lineups (exclusive of pitchers). Some skippers constantly tinker with their lineup (not always by choice). Some move various players around the diamond. This quantifies which pilots moved the chess pieces the most.
- Batting Orders: Total unique batting orders (exclusive of pitchers).
- TOT: The sum of all the “Rk” columns. The lower the number, the more managing done.
In the American League, Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons edged out perennial high finisher Mike Scioscia of the Angels, with the Rays’ Kevin Cash coming in a close third. Gibbons only led in one category (relief appearances used), but finished no worse than fourth in five other categories. Scioscia (stolen base attempts) and Cash (pickoffs) each led in one category.
The award in the National League goes to the Cardinals’ Mike Matheny (a second-place finisher in 2016), with the Brewers’ Craig Counsell and the Pirates’ Clint Hurdle finishing a distant second and third respectively. Matheny didn’t lead all NL managers in any category, but finished no worse than fourth in six different stats. Counsell led the league in defensive shifts and stolen base attempts, while Hurdle didn’t lead in any category.
Congrats to Gibbons and Matheny!