By C. Trent Rosecrans
Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and Rays manager Joe Maddon overwhelmingly won the Manager of the Year award in the National League and American League, respectively, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced on Wednesday.
If voting were done after the playoffs instead of before the playoffs, would Tony La Russa have won the National League Manager of the Year award?
Gibson, who took over as the Diamondbacks skipper during the 2010 season, received 28 of 32 first-place votes after he guided Arizona to a 94-68 record and the National League West title. Arizona lost their National League division series to the Brewers in five games. First-year Brewers manager Ron Roenicke received three first-place votes, with former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa receiving the other first-place vote. Roenicke finished second and La Russa third.
Maddon, in his sixth season with the Rays, received 26 of 28 first-place votes after leading the Rays to a 91-71 record and the American League wild card. The Rays trailed the Red Sox by 9 1/2 games on Sept. 2, before the team went 16-8 over their last 24 games, including winning their last five games to slip into the playoffs over the collapsing Red Sox. It is the second time Maddon has won the award, also winning in 2008. Detroit's Jim Leyland and Texas' Ron Washington received the other first-place votes, with Leyland finishing second and Washington third.
Voting for the award is done after the regular season and before the playoffs begin.
Both managers won the award in the time-honored tradition of exceeding expectations. Although the Rays won the AL East in 2010, the team lost Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and nearly the team's entire bullpen from its 2010 team.
Gibson's Diamondbacks were an afterthought in the NL West after losing 97 games in 2010. However, Arizona took the NL West lead on Aug. 10 and left the defending champion Giants in the dust over the final two months of the season.
In the name of full disclosure, I was a voter for the National League Manager of the Year and was one of the 28 voters to put Gibson atop my ballot. I put La Russa second and Roenicke third -- flip-flopping those two in the final week of the season after the Cardinals' remarkable run to the playoffs.