When asked about the attributes of Brandon Hyde as Orioles manager on MLB Network Tuesday morning and how he has had such an impact on the roster, O’s bench coach Fredi Gonzalez had an interesting answer.
“Well, he’s been given the opportunity to grow with the team,” he said. “That doesn’t happen in our sport.”
He noted how Hyde was that rare skipper to start with a team at the beginning of a rebuild and still be around when they were ready to win and when they did win. And in this case, be a big reason that they won.
After seeing his Orioles win 52 games in 2021, 83 in 2022 and 101 and an AL East title in 2023, Hyde was named last night as the American League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Hyde and Earl Weaver are the only O’s skippers to manage 100-win teams in Baltimore. And Hyde joins Frank Robinson (1989), Davey Johnson (1997) and Buck Showalter (2014) as BBWAA Managers of the Year. The award was first handed out in 1983.
“We’ve seen so many times when the guy comes in, takes the beatings for the first couple of years, losses 100 games and gets fired when they start getting good," said Gonzalez. "I think the Angelos family and Mike Elias has recognized this guy has it. Hyder has it. You get an opportunity to grow with the club and he’s taken full advantage of that. He has a great pulse in the clubhouse with the guys and it’s been fun watching him mature as a manager.”
When I think of what makes Hyde a good manager and maybe the perfect manager for a young and talented Orioles team, it can really come down to two words: respect and relationships.
The enormous respect he has earned from the clubhouse to the owner’s suite and the relationships he has built with the same groups and his own front office and staff. Former O's skipper Showalter had respect from his first day in Baltimore due to his track record as a skipper. Hyde's respect was earned on the job with the Orioles.
For me my first solid impression of Hyde came well before I got to know him much at all. It was during spring training of 2019, his first season as Orioles manager. Several young players on the team told me both on and off the record how comfortable they felt playing for Hyde and how much he encouraged them to be themselves.
They were playing whatever is the opposite of tight, even those with legit chances to win jobs. For a player, if that meant play you play with a flair, do that. If that meant to be outgoing and the most talkative guy in the clubhouse, do that. Be yourself he told the players, especially the young ones, and don’t be timid or afraid to make a mistake. All managers probably say this but somehow the sincerity came through to those players and he made a nice first impression with the clubhouse.
And it all built from there.
For me Hyde was most impressive when the team was losing in how hard the clubs played over the full seasons and the high energy and upbeat nature that was always around the Orioles. He built it then and it carried over to the winning times.
Hyde has said numerous times what he learned the most working with Joe Maddon was to be the same guy each day. Don’t change or show concern when your team has lost six in a row and don’t act like they achieved something when they won six in a row. Easy to say but hard to do. Hyde does it.
Hyde’s player development background has helped him understand and guide how to bring top young talent like Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez and Gunnar Henderson to the majors. And more is on deck. He saw the Cubs go from the bottom to the top and that experience serves him well in Baltimore.
Hyde, who turned 50 in October, was named the 20th manager in Orioles history on Dec. 14, 2018. On an O's Zoom call with local media last night, he remembered back to when he was hired by Elias. The two men had not worked together previously, but they have sure formed a strong 1-2 punch heading the O's baseball operations.
"The day we spent together (before he got the job) I really liked him. I liked the way he went about things, I liked his vision a lot. He told me he was going to be patient and he followed through on that. He kind of explained to me honestly, how hard it was going to be. And he had done it before so that was helpful.
"I remember him telling the coaching staff the first spring training in '19, the expectations for you guys are to try and get these players better. We knew we were behind the eight-ball in a lot of ways.
"So, for him to be honest and there are a lot of people that say that, but he went through with it. Mike stuck to his word and had patience through tough years and put a lot of trust in me and the coaching staff and he's made some great decisions. He and his staff have done an amazing job of building this roster," he said.
This is the third time in O's history they've had two BBWAA national winners in the same year. In 1973 it was Al Bumbry as Rookie of the Year and Jim Palmer as Cy Young winner. In 1989, it was Gregg Olson ROY and Frank Robinson as MOY and this year Gunnar Henderson the rookie honor and Hyde.
Hyde actually won this award easily, in the end, getting 27 of 30 first-place votes from the BBWAA. He garnered 144 points in the voting to 61 for Bruce Bochy of Texas and 52 for Kevin Cash of Tampa Bay. The voting was completed before the playoffs began.
I was one of the 30 voters for this award and voted this way: Hyde, Cash, Bochy.