Tag:2011 awards
Posted on: November 22, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 8:24 pm
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Ryan Braun wins NL MVP



By Matt Snyder


Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has won the National League Most Valuable Player award, garnering 20 of the 32 first-place votes. This marks the first time a Brewers player has ever won the NL MVP. Previous Brewers winners -- Robin Yount (1982, 1989) and Rollie Fingers (1981) -- came when the ballclub was a member of the American League.

Braun, 28, hit .332/.397/.597 with 33 home runs, 111 RBI, 109 runs scored and 33 stolen bases. He led the NL in slugging percentage and OPS. He also helped lead his team to a 96-66 record, an NL Central championship and a trip to the NLCS for the first time in franchise history.

"This really is a dream," Braun said. "This is beyond my wildest dreams to be in this position at this point in my career."

Most Valuable Player
Braun beat out a pretty solid field of sluggers in the Senior Circuit, with Matt Kemp of the Dodgers finishing second.

Kemp's case was very strong, and this felt like a two-horse race for the entire month of September. Kemp challenged for the triple crown (leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBI). He led the NL with 39 home runs and 126 RBI, but finished third in batting average at a .324 clip. He also stole 40 bases, won a Gold Glove and led the NL in total bases.

"Matt's one of the best players in the game. No question about it. The season he had will go down as one of the greatest in Dodgers history," said Braun. "If he had won the MVP I certainly couldn't have argued with him winning. He had a phenomenal year."

Alas, the Dodgers weren't in contention all season, finishing third place in the NL West at 82-79. Ultimately, the difference in team performance seems to be what propelled Braun over Kemp.

"If you honestly assess both of our seasons individually I think his numbers are probably better than mine, and I just feel fortunate to have been on the better team," Braun said. "It's an individual award, but it's a result of being part of a special team, a special organization."

Here are the top 10 finishers, with voting points in parentheses:

1. Braun (388)
2. Kemp (332)
3. Prince Fielder (229)
4. Justin Upton (214)
5. Albert Pujols (166)
6. Joey Votto (135)
7. Lance Berkman (118)
8. Troy Tulowitzki (69)
9. Roy Halladay (52)
10. Ryan Howard (39)

The following players, in order of vote totals, also received votes: Jose Reyes, Clayton Kershaw, Shane Victorino, Ian Kennedy, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, John Axford, Michael Morse, Carlos Beltran, Miguel Montero, Yadier Molina, Starlin Castro, Craig Kimbrel, Carlos Ruiz, Mike Stanton.

It's worth noting that this was the 11th season Pujols has finished in the top 10 of MVP voting -- and he's only been in the league for 11 years. He's won MVP three times and finished in the top five 10 of those 11 years.

Kemp took home 10 first-place votes, with Fielder and Upton getting one each. Braun had the rest. Only Braun, Kemp and Fielder received second-place votes.

Braun is locked up with Milwaukee through the 2020 season, as he signed a five-year extension in April. The 2011 MVP award will join the 2007 Rookie of the Year in Braun's trophy case.

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Posted on: November 22, 2011 1:21 pm
 

Choosing the NL Least Valuable Player



By Matt Snyder


With the announcement of the National League MVP coming Tuesday, we'll once again do the opposite and choose a least valuable player. Unlike the AL version of this "award," the candidates were not nearly as identifiable. I did narrow it down to five worthy contenders, so let's size 'em up.

Pedro Alvarez, Pirates. The 24-year-old third baseman was supposed to be a power bat in the middle of the Pirates lineup for years to come. And he still might prove to be one in the future, but he was awful in 2011. Alvarez hit .191/.272/.289 with just four homers in 262 plate appearances. He even earned a demotion to Triple-A. He struck out 80 times and grounded into 11 double plays in just 235 at-bats.

Tyler Colvin, Cubs. The 2006 first-round pick hit 20 home runs in 358 at-bats in 2010, but he was lost in 2011. Colvin hit .150/.204/.306 with six homers in 222 plate appearances. You can go after Mike Quade for not letting Colvin get regular playing time if you want, but how can you justify continuing to run a guy out there with a .204 on-base percentage?

Aubrey Huff, Giants. Believe it or not, Huff finished seventh in MVP voting in 2010. Man, that seems like ages ago. In 2011, the Giants had the worst offense in the National League, and Huff has to shoulder some of that blame. Huff's raw stats don't look near as bad as those of Alvarez, Colvin or a litany of others, but his .246/.306/.370 line damaged a legitimate playoff threat. If he had a similar season to 2010, the entire complexion of the lineup changes.

Derek Lowe, Braves. He made 34 starts and worked 187 innings, so that sounds like he had some value, at least in giving the Braves a healthy innings-eater. It's just that Lowe faltered when the Braves needed him the most. His overall season numbers -- 9-17, 5.05 ERA, 1.51 WHIP -- were bad enough, but Lowe was horrifying in September. He made five starts, going 0-5 with an 8.75 ERA and 1.99 WHIP. This was during a historic collapse. And Lowe made $15 million in 2011.

Brandon Lyon, Astros. The closer set the tone for the Astros' abysmal 2011 season by blowing an opening-day save opportunity, allowing six hits and three runs to the Phillies. He would rack up as many blown saves as actual saves (four), which fit nicely with his 11.48 ERA and 2.40 WHIP. Still, Lyon only appeared in 15 games, due to injury, so he can't really win this one.

And the winner is ... Huff by a nose. Ultimately, I believe Huff's shortfall from his 2010 numbers was more responsible for costing the Giants the playoffs than Lowe's campaign. Since Lowe is a starting pitcher and only goes once every five days, I feel like the Braves still could have overcome his shortcomings. But the Giants' offense was pitiful all season, and if Huff hit the ball better, it would have been an immense boost. I'd definitely be on board with anyone wanting to pick Lowe, though. This was a two-horse race.

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Posted on: November 21, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 5:04 pm
 

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP



By Matt Snyder


Tigers ace pitcher Justin Verlander had a historic season for several reasons, and you can now add MVP and Cy Young in the same season to the list. He won the American League MVP, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced Monday afternoon. Verlander becomes the first starting pitcher to win MVP since Roger Clemens took home the honors all the way back in 1986. This also marks the first time any pitcher has won since 1992, when A's closer Dennis Eckersley won. This marks the 10th time a pitcher has won both the MVP and Cy Young in the same season.

"Not even in my wildest dreams had I thought of this," Verlander said. "I want to say this is a dream come true. I can't say that because my dream had already had come true ... to win a Cy Young. And the next dream is to win a World Series. This wasn't even on my radar until the talk started. And then all of a sudden it was a this-could-actually-happen type of thing."

Verlander, 28, was clearly the best pitcher in baseball in 2011. He went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 250 strikeouts in 251 innings. He had four complete games, two shutouts and one no-hitter. He led the American League in wins, winning percentage, starts, innings pitched, strikeouts, WHIP, ERA-plus and hits per nine innings.

Verlander racking up awards
The only real question as to whether or not Verlander would win the award was based upon his position. Pitchers only work once every fifth day, so many argued that they shouldn't be allowed to win an award that is traditionally given to players who are seen in the lineup every single game. But Verlander was so good it was tough to ignore. And he tied Jose Bautista with 8.5 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

"I think that a starting pitcher has to do something special to be as valuable or more so than a position player," Verlander said. "Obviously, having the chance to play in 160-some games in the case of Miguel, they can obviously have a huge impact every day. That's why, I've talked about on my day, on a pitcher's day, the impact we have is tremendous on that game. So you have to have a great impact almost every time out to supersede (position players) and it happens on rare occasions, and I guess this year was one of those years."

This vote was probably the most intriguing of all the BBWAA votes this season because it felt wide open. Should pitchers be allowed to win? Can a player on a fourth-place team be considered valuable? Can a player on a team who had a historic collapse down the stretch win? There were arguments all over the place for the last six weeks of the season. Here's how the final vote stacked up, with the final points in parentheses:

1. Verlander (280)
2. Jacoby Ellsbury (242)
3. Bautista (231)
4. Curtis Granderson (215)
5. Miguel Cabrera (193)
6. Robinson Cano (112)
7. Adrian Gonzalez (105)
8. Michael Young (96)
9. Dustin Pedroia (48)
10. Evan Longoria (27)

In order: Ian Kinsler, Alex Avila, Paul Konerko, CC Sabathia, Adrian Beltre, Ben Zobrist, Victor Martinez, James Shields, Mark Teixeira, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alex Gordon, Josh Hamilton and David Robertson also received votes.

Verlander received 13 of the 28 first-place votes. Bautista got five, Ellsbury, four; Granderson, three; Miguel Cabrera, two and Young got one first-place vote. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News gave Young his lone MVP vote.

One voter, Jim Ingraham of the Lake Herald News (Cleveland) completely left Verlander off the ballot. Via the Associated Press, here was Ingraham's rationale:

"I'd wrestled with this for a long time. If I was ever going to vote for pitcher for MVP, it would be him this year," Ingraham said. "He hasn't appeared in 79 percent of their games, any starting pitcher really doesn't appear in 79 percent of his team's games in a year.

"Would you vote for an NFL quarterback for MVP if he only appeared in three of his team's 16 games, which would 21 percent? So that's part of it. Another part of it is I think they're apples and oranges. The guys that are in there every day, there's a grind to a season that a starting pitcher doesn't, I don't think, experience the way the everyday position players do playing 150, 160 games."

Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal gave Verlander an eighth-place vote while both Chad Jennings of the Journal News (New York) and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle voted him sixth.

Jacoby Ellsbury was hurt by a 10th place vote from Scot Gregor of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald (Chicago).

Other pitchers to win MVP and Cy Young in the same year were Don Newcombe (1956), Sandy Koufax (1963), Bob Gibson, Denny McLain (1968), Vida Blue (1971), Rollie Fingers (1981) and Willie Hernandez (1984).

This is the ninth time a Tigers player has won the MVP. The others: Mickey Cochrane (1934), Hank Greenberg (1935), Charlie Gehringer (1937), Greenberg (1940), Hal Newhouser (1944), Newhouser (1945), McLain (1968) and Hernandez (1984).

The National League MVP will be revealed Tuesday. It's likely to be either Ryan Braun or Matt Kemp, but a few others will factor heavily in the voting.

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Posted on: November 21, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 1:57 pm
 

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player



By Matt Snyder


The AL MVP is to be named Monday afternoon, amidst the usual sanctimony and outrage that accompanies close votes. Let's take a break from that and do something fun -- well, at least it's fun for those of us who aren't on this list.

Who was the least valuable player in the American League this season? Here are five very good candidates:

Adam Dunn, White Sox. Pretty obvious choice here. Dunn killed fantasy owners, the White Sox lineup and turned his staunchest of defenders against him with one of the worst seasons in major-league history. His strikeouts (177) were more than his batting average percentage points (.159) -- marking only the second time in history that's ever happened to a player with at least 100 strikeouts (Mark Reynolds in 2010 was the other). After averaging 40 home runs in the previous seven seasons, Dunn only hit 11 in '11. Perhaps worst of all, Dunn's slugging percentage was a pathetic .277.

Chone Figgins, Mariners. If he doesn't win, it's at least partially because Figgins only appeared in half of the Mariners' games. Because in his 81 games, he hit .188/.241/.243, good for an abysmal 39 OPS-plus. His defense was a negative value by most metrics and Figgins can't even steal bases well anymore, as he was caught six times against just 11 successful attempts.

Jeff Mathis, Angels. We probably don't need to rub anymore salt in the wound for Angels fans by bringing up the Mike Napoli trade, so we'll just focus on Mathis himself. Defense aside -- which manager Mike Scioscia has insisted is good in the past but has been disputed by many sabermatricians -- Mathis is a brutal offensive player. He hit .174/.225/.259 in his 281 plate appearances.

Brian Matusz, Orioles. The 2008 first-round draft pick still has good upside and battled injuries through parts of 2011, but that doesn't take away from how dreadful his performance was this past season. In 12 starts, Matusz was 1-9 with a 6.59 ERA and 2.11 WHIP while averaging just over four innings per start. So not only was he causing his team to lose games, he was taxing the bullpen, hurting the Orioles' chances in games he didn't even start.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins. That three-year, $9.25 million deal wasn't enough to keep Nishioka's starting job. The Twins have already signed Jamey Carroll to be the everyday shortstop and will go with Alexi Casilla at second. This was due to Nishioka's awful 2011 season. Yes, he broke his leg in the first series and only played 68 games in 2011. When he did play, he hurt the Twins more than helped them. According to bWAR (Wins Above Replacement on BaseballReference.com), Nishioka had a negative defensive value. And that's pretty bad from a player hitting .226/.278/.249. Oh, and he stole two bases in six attempts.

And the winner is ... Dunn. With all due to respect to the other guys, Dunn's season was historically futile and came on the heels of signing a four-year, $56 million contract.

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Posted on: November 17, 2011 3:46 pm
 

Kershaw latest youngster to dazzle

Clayton Kershaw

By C. Trent Rosecrans

When it comes to young pitchers and dominating seasons, many of us think back to Dwight Gooden in 1985 and Roger Clemens in 1986 -- but both of those seasons were before 2011 National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw was born. Kershaw is the youngest Cy Young winner since Gooden in 1985, but he isn't the only player of his age to dominate baseball since Gooden and Clemens.

So, which pitchers age 23 or younger have put together the best pitching seasons since Kershaw was born on March 19, 1988?

• Mark Prior, 2003: In his second season and just 22, Prior went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA with an amazing 245 strikeouts for the Cubs. He not only threw 211 1/3 innings during the regular season, he also threw 23 1/3 innings in the postseason, including the infamous Game 6 of the NLCS against the Marlins. Prior finished third in the Cy Young voting behind runaway-winer Eric Gagne, who finished with 55 saves, and San Francisco's Jason Schmidt (17-5, 2.34 ERA). The 2003 season would prove to be the best season of Prior's career. He went just 18-17 with a 4.27 ERA over the next three seasons and has battled injuries and minor leaguers since then.

Felix Hernandez, 2009: The year before winning the Cy Young with a 13-12 record, a 23-year-old Hernandez led the American League with a 19-5 record and also put up a 2.49 ERA. Hernandez finished second in the Cy Young voting in 2009, losing to the Royals' Zack Greinke. Hernandez went 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA as a 24-year-old in 2010. "King" Felix was 14-14 with a 3.47 ERA in 2011, but is still one of baseball's best pitchers.

• Jake Peavy, 2004: Peavy won an ERA title in his third year in the majors, going 15-6 with a 2.27 ERA as a 23-year-old in 2004. That didn't garner him any Cy Young votes -- Roger Clemens claimed his seventh, and final, Cy Young that year. Peavy would win the Cy Young in 2007. 

• Joe Magrane, 1988: As a 23-year-old, Magrane led the National League with a 2.18 ERA, but had just a 5-0 record in 24 starts. The left-hander didn't receive any votes for the Cy Young, but did finish fourth (behind Mark Davis, Mike Scott, Greg Maddux and tied with Orel Hershiser) the next season when he went 18-9. Magrane was never the same after an elbow injury in 1990 and retired in 1996 at 32.

• Carlos Zambrano, 2004: With a 16-8 record and 2.75 ERA, the right-hander finished fifth in Cy Young voting, striking out 188 batters in 209 2/3 innings. Zambrano didn't lead the league in any categories other than hit batters (20), but was otherwise very good. Since then he's had a roller-coaster career, but from age 22-27 he was 91-51 with a 3.39 ERA, making at least 30 starts in each year from 2003-2008.

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Posted on: November 17, 2011 2:00 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 4:17 pm
 

Clayton Kershaw wins NL Cy Young Award

Clayton Kershaw

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw added the National League Cy Young Award to his pitching Triple Crown on Thursday, beating Phillies' right-hander Roy Halladay to win his first Cy Young.

The 23-year-old Kershaw led the National League with 21 wins, a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts. He also led the league with a 0.977 WHIP, was named to his first All-Star team and won the Gold Glove -- in all, a pretty good year. He received 27 of the 32 first-place votes in voting done by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Halladay received four first-place votes, while fourth-place finisher Ian Kennedy received the other. Halladay's teammate, Cliff Lee, finished third, but didn't receive a first-place vote.

Halladay, 34, missed out on his third Cy Young Award, winning it in 2010 for the Phillies and in 2003 while in Toronto. Halladay went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA and 208 strikeouts, leading the league with eight complete games. He also led the National League in ERA+ with a 164. ERA+ measures a pitcher's ERA against the league average and takes park factors into effect.

Three Phillies finished in the top fiive, with left-hander Cole Hamels finishing fifth. In all, four Giants received votes, with Tim Lincecum finishing sixth, Matt Cain eighth and Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong tying for 11th with one fifth-place vote each.

In the end, though, it came down to Kershaw and Halladay. Either was a good choice, but Kershaw's Triple Crown may have pushed him over the top. He was one of the bright spots -- along with Matt Kemp -- of a pretty dark year for the Dodgers. Even though Kershaw made his first All-Star team with a 9-4 record and 3.03 ERA in the first half, he won the Cy Young in the second half, when he went 12-2 with a 1.31 ERA. He also dominated at Dodger Stadium, going 12-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 16 starts at home, with his only home loss coming on April 16, his second home start of the season.

"I always dreamed about playing in the big leagues. I never dreamed about doing anything special in the big leagues. I don't think any kid ever does," Kershaw said. "The people I'm now associated with, just by having this award, is something that I never thought would ever happen."

It is the 10th time a Dodgers pitcher has won the award, joining three-time winner Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe, Don Drysdale, Mike Marshall, Fernando Valezuela, Orel Hershiser and Eric Gagne. Being left-handed, the comparisons to Koufax have naturally come up, though Kershaw said he was uncomfortable with the comparison.

"I'm still uncomfortable with it. I don't want to have any disrespect for Mr. Koufax. He did it for a long time. He won a lot of awards and he won World Series. He threw no-hitters. Just a lot of things I'm not anywhere close to accomplishing yet," Kershaw said. "I have tremendous respect for him and would never want to ever put myself in the same category as him." 

Previous Cy Young Award winners.

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Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Including playoffs, La Russa top manager



By C. Trent Rosecrans

At last year's Winter Meetings in Orlando there was a motion during the Baseball Writers Association of America's meeting to change the voting for the Manager of the Year Award until after the playoffs. The resolution was overwhelmingly voted down, but it did get me to thinking how Wednesday's choices would have been different had the voting taken place at the end of October rather than the end of September.

For the record, I voted against the measure. I believe the true test of a manager is over 162 games, while the playoffs can sometimes be a crapshoot with moves sometimes magnified more on whether they worked or not, rather than how things often even out over the course of a full season. Heck, the past postseason has turned managers from genius to idiot back to genius in the course of a single series.

Award Season
Kirk GibsonKirk Gibson overwhelmingly won the National League Manager of the Year award, getting 28 of 32 first-place votes. Joe Maddon won the AL award, getting 26 of 28 first-place votes.
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In the American League, Maddon probably still would have won the award, regardless of when the vote was taken (as long as it was after the regular season, he was kind of an afterthought at the beginning of September). In the playoffs, the Rays fell to the Rangers in four games, but it was through no fault of Maddon's. Nobody expected the Rays to go on to the World Series, and they didn't.

None of the three other managers in the American League playoffs -- Texas' Ron Washington, New York's Joe Girardi or Detroit's Jim Leyland -- were seen as having great postseasons, or even good ones. Washington is always criticized for playing his hunches -- including starting Matt Harrison in Game 7 -- while Leyland didn't just Justin Verlander on short rest and engaged in a bunt-fest with Girardi that nearly broke Twitter, meaning Maddon wouldn't have to worry about giving up his crown if the voting were moved.

Had the voting been done after the playoffs, the National League winner would have certainly been different. After leading his underdog Diamondbacks to the playoffs, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was the overwhelming winner in the National League Manager of the Year award, but just a less than two weeks after 28 of 32 ballots (mine included, for the record) had Gibson on top of their ballots, it might not have been such an easy choice.

While Maddon won the American League award based in part because of the Rays' late run to the playoffs, La Russa did the same in the National League and still finished third in the voting. Maddon's Rays were 9 1/2 games out of the wild card on Sept. 2, while La Russa's Cardinals were the 8 1/2 behind the Braves on that same date and went 17-7 over the rest of the season, winning the wild card on the final day.

La Russa added to that resume in the postseason when the Cardinals made an underdog run to the franchise's 11th World Series title. Along the way he was praised for the handling of his team's pitching staff up until a communication breakdown with his bullpen in Game 5 of the World Series in Texas. At that point, the so-called smartest man in baseball looked clueless and was called worse. Two more wins salvaged that reputation before La Russa retired on top.

Meanwhile, Gibson was roundly criticized for his perceived overaggressiveness early in the series, including a decision to pitch to Prince Fielder in a Game 1 loss. Gibson was then praised after pulling starter Joe Saunders in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks in a win. Overall, the Diamondbacks didn't lose the series because of Gibson's managing, but he did come out with his reputation taking a bit of a hit following the first five postseason games of his managerial career.

Despite the bullpen phone mixup in Texas, there's zero doubt La Russa would have added his fifth Manager of the Year award to his collection had the voting taken place after the playoffs. While Gibson shouldn't be making apologies for winning the Manager of the Year on Wednesday, it's unlikely he'd have it if the voting were done later -- but I'm pretty sure La Russa wouldn't trade his 2011 trophy for the one Gibson' received.

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Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:22 pm
 

The 2011 Anti-Managers of the Year



By Matt Snyder


Some of the best managers in baseball for 2011 were listed on ballots that were revealed Wednesday. Joe Maddon and Kirk Gibson came out on top in a completely unsurprising movement. But what about the other end of the spectrum? Who were the worst managers? We'll exclude guys who were fired during the season because they've already suffered enough. But what about the managers who kept their jobs well into September despite failing to meet preseason expectations? Let's check them out.

AL Anti-Manager of the Year candidates

Terry Francona, Red Sox. No, he wasn't fired during the season. He walked away after the season, so he's "eligible" in this fun little exercise. And with the fallout of the historic collapse we've already heard far too much about, you have to question everyone in the Red Sox organization. Francona built up a ton of credibility throughout his years at the helm in Boston and rightfully so, but in looking at just 2011, the awful September is a real black eye on his resume.

Ozzie Guillen, White Sox. He wasn't fired either. He walked away to take a new job after having a colossal disappointment of a season. The White Sox were picked by many to win the AL Central with what looked like a stacked offense and very good starting pitching. Instead, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios were albatrosses, Gordon Beckham took a step backward in his development and the back-end of the bullpen was a mess for the first several weeks of the season. There were some positives, but the negatives far outweighed those on a high-priced roster that failed to meet expectations.

Ron Gardenhire, Twins. It's hard to completely blame Gardenhire for the disaster that was the Twins' 2011 season, considering all the injuries, but, frankly, I needed a third name here. And with the Twins getting 31 games worse in one season, Gardenhire has to shoulder at least some of the load.

The pick: It's gotta be Francona with that monumental collapse. And the funny thing is, I'd hire him in a heartbeat if I was running a team with a managerial opening. He just had a bad month, along with many of his players.

NL Anti-Manager of the Year candidates

Fredi Gonzalez, Braves. His ballclub lost a double-digit lead in the NL wild card in one month. That's not always on the manager, as the offense was sputtering just as it had most of the season, but I'm placing a lot of blame on Gonzalez because the back-end of his bullpen started to falter down the stretch. All season, people had been pointing out the overuse of Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters. And all season, Gonzalez just ignored it, and continued running the duo out there, even with three-run leads. Just because the save rule says a three-run lead means a save opportunity doesn't mean you have to use your guys. What was wrong with using Scott Linebrink and George Sherrill with a three-run lead in the middle of July, for example? Plus, there were times Gonzalez used either Venters or Kimbrel with a lead bigger than three. That's just unexcusable.

Dusty Baker, Reds. The Reds got 12 games worse in a mediocre division (yes, there were two good teams, but three pretty bad ones) with very similar personnel to their division-winning team in 2010. In four seasons, Baker has only had a winning record once.

Mike Quade, Cubs. Flawed roster? Yes. Injuries? Sure. But Quade was still pretty overmatched and appeared to lose control of his locker room by July. This was coming from a guy many players endorsed prior to the season.

Jim Tracy, Rockies. The Jorge De La Rosa injury hurt, just as some underperformance from a few players, but the Rockies entered the season with far too much talent to end up a whopping 16 games under .500. Manager of the Year voting seems to always use performance versus expectations, so it's only fair the Anti-Manager does the same. Thus, Tracy's inclusion here.

The pick: Gonzalez, and I'd actually think about firing him due to the aforementioned overuse of Kimbrel and Venters. It cost his team the season. Hopefully the wear and tear doesn't alter the career paths of the young fireballers.

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