Monday, October 8, 2012

Melvin, Johnson were top skippers in '12

At the conclusion of every season, the members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) are asked to submit their ballots for the top awards across baseball. Each of these awards is named in honor of a player that epitomized the role in Major League Baseball. Over the course of the next week, I will release my ballots for each award and I will post the official announcements from the BBA with the combined votes of all member blogs.

Here is the list of awards that will be announced in the coming days:
  • Connie Mack Award (Top Manager) released today
  • Willie Mays Award (Top Rookie)
  • Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)
  • Walter Johnson Award (Top Pitcher)
  • Stan Musial Award (Top Player)
Connie Mack Award for Top Manager
American League

1. Bob Melvin- Oakland Athletics (94-68, AL West Division Champions)
With a plethora of rookies in their starting rotation and unproven players at different positions on the field, there didn't seem to be anyone who thought the Athletics would be able to contend in the AL West. This was supposed to be a divisional fight between the Angels and the Rangers with the A's as an afterthought in third or fourth place. Someone forgot to tell the A's that they weren't suppose to contend in 2012. It was a magical end to the season as Melvin made all of the right moves to bring the A's to the brink of winning the division. The players did the rest in the final series of the year against the Rangers. This award will be a two-man race between Melvin and Buck Showalter but Melvin's team won their division so my vote goes in support of him.

2. Buck Showalter- Baltimore Orioles (93-69, Wild Card)
In arguably the toughest division in baseball, the Orioles were able to hang with the big dogs and make the postseason for the first time since the late 1990's. It didn't make sense for the Orioles to keep winning as they barely were able to have a positive run differential but the team fared very well in close contests. Showalter seemed to be able to get the most out of a roster with very little star power and it's great to see the Orioles return to their former powerhouse status in the American League. It is a toss-up between Showalter and Melvin and this award could easily go to Mr. Showalter.

3. Robin Ventura- Chicago White Sox (85-77, 2nd Place Central Division)
After a rough season in 2011, the White Sox turned the reigns over to a new skipper and he was able to lead the White Sox to a surprise second place finish in the AL Central. At the beginning of the year, there were many that thought Detroit would clearly win the Central but it was tough to know who would challenge them. The White Sox did more than challenge the Tigers; they pushed them all the way until the last week of the season. There were bounce back seasons from multiple players on the roster and it was a surprise to see the White Sox in contention for so long this year.

National League

1. Davey Johnson- Washington Nationals (98-64, NL East Division Champions)
The Nationals were supposed to make a positive jump this season but no one thought they would have the most wins of any team in the baseball world. Their strong pitching staff was supplemented by a talented offense. Young prospect Bryce Harper provided a spark to help push the team to their first divisional crown since moving to Washington. For Johnson, he had to balance the press surrounding the shutdown Stephen Strasburg and all of the hype around Mr. Harper. There were injuries along the way to star players like Ryan Zimmerman but Johnson provided the calming influence to keep the Nationals on the path to the divisional crown. The Braves pushed them for most of the year but in the end it was the year of the Nats. 

2. Fredi Gonzalez- Atlanta Braves (94-68, Wild Card)
It could have been easy for the Braves to have a tough year after their collapse to end the 2011 season. Gonzalez and his coaching staff were able to put the nightmare of 2011 behind them to have their players put together a very strong showing in the National League. For Chipper Jones, the future Hall of Fame third baseman, it was a great regular season to end his career. The pitching staff for the Braves put together some very good numbers to help keep Atlanta in the hunt for another division title until the final days of the season. If not for the Nationals strong showing, this award could have been added to the resume of Gonzalez.

3. Bruce Bochy- San Francisco Giants (94-68, NL West Division Champions)
When a team's two time Cy Young winner has a difficult season, it can be tough for a team to overcome this performance and still be in the hunt for a divisional title. Even with Tim Lincecum having a very un-Lincecum like year, the Giants were able ride the rest of their strong pitching staff back to the top of the National League West. Buster Posey had a fantastic second half of the year and he could be in line for the MVP Award in the NL. It was a good bounce-back season after the Giants missed the postseason in 2011 and Bochy was there to lead the team.

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