The Sporting News will announce its American League and National League Managers of the Year on Tuesday. It could be the first honor for Buck Showalter in 2014.
And probably not the last.
Showalter is the favorite to be named AL Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Keep in mind that ballots were submitted before the playoffs.
Showalter isn’t losing sleep over it. He actually seems uncomfortable with the attention. He talks about how the players allow him to manage them, how he’s just trying not to get in the way.
If Showalter could deflect a puck the way he does praise, he’d be in the NHL Hall of Fame. His impact on a team, an organization, a city, is much stronger than he admits.
Perhaps his reluctance to embrace the award comes from the perception that it goes to the manager whose team exceeded expectations. He’d prefer that the Orioles were viewed as contenders every year, that 96 wins in the regular season and three more in the playoffs were a reasonable goal.
Then again, exceeding expectations doesn’t guarantee the award. How in the world did Showalter finish fourth in the NL voting in 1999 after the Diamondbacks improved by 35 wins, the most in major league history? They won 100 games and the NL West. Was there a gas leak in the homes of every voter?
The Reds’ Jake McKeon finished first that year and received 17 first-place votes, followed by the Braves’ Bobby Cox (10), the Astros’ Larry Dierker (four) and Showalter (one).
Showalter also deserved Executive of the Year, since he pretty much built the expansion Diamondbacks, who were in their second season of existence in 1999. He just didn’t wear the GM label.
Showalter did win the AL Manager of the Year award with the Yankees in 1994 and the Rangers in 2004. If the 10-year BBWAA pattern holds, he’s going to win it again in 2014.
Showalter’s stiffest competition this season comes from the Royals’ Ned Yost, the Angels’ Mike Scioscia and the Mariners’ Lloyd McClendon. They should comprise the top four in some order.
My ballot will be revealed once the BBWAA announces the winner. In the meantime, we’ll find out on Tuesday where he places in The Sporting News balloting.
Showalter won it in 2012 after the Orioles posted their first winning season in 14 years and ended their playoff drought, but the BBWAA chose the Athletics’ Bob Melvin.