It's hard to argue with Roberts, Francona as Manager of the Year winners

The managers who win Manager of the Year awards are usually the guys that won - or at least contended - despite a list of problems. That's why the Dodgers' Dave Roberts won the Baseball Writers' Association of America award over the Cubs' Joe Maddon and the Nationals' Dusty Baker. Roberts had 16 first-place votes and 108 points. Maddon had eight first-place votes and 70 points, Baker four first-place votes and 66 points. Roberts led the Dodgers to the National League West title and 91 wins with his calmness, his ability to manage a bullpen and his quiet leadership. The Dodgers rallied from a 21-23 record in late May. They were 6 1/2 games out on July 8. The Dodgers won the division even though their best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, missed 10 weeks with a back injury. In fact, every starter except Kenta Maeda went on the disabled list, and Maeda, a finalist in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting, was a five-inning pitcher in the final month. Thanks to injuries, the Dodgers used 15 different starters. The Dodgers made a trade for pitcher Rich Hill in midseason, but Roberts had to work around Hill's blister problems. Roberts' strength was his ability to use the bullpen without wearing down relievers. He made a record 607 pitching changes and showed his leadership by twice taking starters out of games while throwing a no-hitter in the late innings. He had to deal with discipline issues of Yasiel Puig, who was sent to the minor leagues. Roberts was without outfielder Andre Ethier because of a broken leg. And Adrian Gonzalez, the team's first baseman and most consistent hitter, slumped in the first half. The Dodgers' scrappy attitude was a reflection of Roberts' personality. Baker, who has won the award three times, was the perfect manager to help the Nationals recover from their disappointing non-playoff year in 2015. Baker had a few issues. Bryce Harper had an off year and might have been playing with a shoulder injury. Ryan Zimmerman had a miserable year. Jayson Werth was on and off. Danny Espinosa didn't hit and Baker had to go with a rookie, Trea Turner, in center field after Ben Revere was first injured and then slumped. Turner established himself in the leadoff spot, but it's always a gamble with a rookie, no matter how talented. Baker also had to deal with over-the-hill closer Jonathan Papelbon, who was eventually replaced by Mark Melancon, acquired in a trade from Pittsburgh. And pitcher Stephen Strasburg and catcher Wilson Ramos finished the season on the sidelines. Those two injuries hit the Nationals especially hard in the postseason. If Baker had won the award, the Nationals would have had three winners. Davey Johnson won the award in 2012 and Matt Williams in 2014. Baker was a strong candidate. He had obstacles, but just not as many as Roberts. The American League's Manager of the Year, Terry Francona of the Indians, had similar circumstances on his way to leading the Tribe to the American League Central championship. Francona had 128 points and 22 first-place votes. The Rangers' Jeff Banister, the winner last season as a rookie manager, finished second with 64 points and the Orioles' Buck Showalter was third with 44 points. The Indians beat the defending World Series champion Royals and the trumped-up and always powerful Tigers to win the division. Francona did it despite injuries to two of his best hitters, outfielder Michael Brantley and catcher Yan Gomes, and two of his starters, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco. After the Indians acquired lefty reliever Andrew Miller in a July trade, Francona's use of Miller broke the standard for how and when managers use their best relief pitchers. Francona was using Miller earlier than the ninth inning during the regular season, weeks before it was a major story in the postseason. The Indians had injury issues in the postseason with another starter, Trevor Bauer, whose finger was slashed by a drone, but that injury happened after the ballots were cast. Ballots from two BBWAA members in each AL city have to be in by the final day of the regular season. Showalter, who has won the award three other times, had a strong season and received votes because of the way he handled the bullpen, although he received a ton of second guessing because he didn't use closer Zach Britton in the wild card playoff loss in Toronto. The Orioles were considered overachievers by the national media and Showalter gets credit for how his bullpen overcame a rotation that had a 4.72 ERA, 13th-highest in the American League.

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