My Ballot for the IBWAA: Manager of the Year
Later today, the BBWAA will announce the AL and NL winners for the Manager of the Year award. This is how I voted for the IBWAA:
Torey Lovullo (ARI)
Skip Schumaker (MIA)
Brian Snitker (ATL)
Voting for the Manager of the Year award is an interesting thing. They play such an important role in keeping a team of 26+ men together as a cohesive unit, and yet there are no "Manager WAR" statistics to make it easy to evaluate them. Often times, I believe it should go to the manager who best overachieved from Luckily, I have a system of sorts that I can use to get some rankings.
Torey Lovullo is my favorite to win the Manager of the Year award in the National League. Keep in mind, votes have to be placed before the postseason begins, but even before we saw him lead the Diamondbacks to the World Series he was my favorite for the award. Since falling to a .321 Winning Percentage in 2021, his team made it to 2nd in the very competitive NL West and a playoff birth for just the 2nd time in the last 10 years. In addition to this, he also had the 3rd best Challenge overturned percentage (66.7%) over 39 total challenges (26 changes) in the MLB and helped the Diamondbacks to a +4 "Luck" factor (A stat that tracks real wins against Pythagorean wins based upon runs scored and runs against.)
Skip Schumaker was the MLB-best "luck" leader with a +9 ranking for the Miami Marlins as well as the 2nd best challenge percentage (72.4%) with 21 overturned calls of 29 challenges. In his first year at the helm, he showed a lot of promise and is going to be my favorite going into the 2024 season to win the next manager of the year award, but as this is his first year in Miami I felt it more appropriate to go with the manager who finally struck gold (in Lovullo) who had been with his team through thick and thin over the last 7 seasons.
Brian Snitker won the 2021 World Series with the Atlanta Braves and has since won more games in each of the following two regular seasons (101 in 2022 and 104 in 2023). This 104 wi total lead the MLB and was quite impressive, but his relatively low challenge rate (25 total, 14 overturns, 56% rate) and a +3 Luck factor- in addition to recently winning the award- kept him from topping my ballot. Though, his candidacy does deserve notoriety.
Brandon Hyde (BAL)
Dusty Baker (HOU)
Terry Francona (CLE)
If the manager of the year award should go to the manager who most overachieved from pre-season expectations, then Brandon Hyde of the Baltimore Orioles is the clear and obvious favorite in the American League. His +7 luck factor was 2nd best in the MLB (and the best in the AL) while his teams' 101 wins was also 2nd best in the MLB (and the best in the AL too)! Much like what Lovullo did with the Diamondbacks, the Orioles team in 2021 had a winning percentage of just .336 and just 2 year later, Hyde was able to bring them to the top of the highly competitive AL East and their 3rd postseason in the last 10 years. Hyde does need to fix his challenge calls (41.5% over 41 calls and 17 turnovers; 23rd in the league on percentage) but even so he deserves this award anyway.
Dusty Baker announced his retirement after the Houston Astros 2023 postseason run came to an end, and though he does not "go out on top" it is hard to beat what he did with the Astros during his tenure (4 straight ALCS, 2 World Series, 1 Ring), however the 2023 season was a bit of a downturn for the reigning World Series champions. With lofty expectations comes lots of room to underperform, and though they won the AL West, they did so with just 90 wins...the fewest in a complete season since their last postseason-less season in 2016. Baker also had a -3 Luck factor (not good!), but was a great statistician with challenging as the best AL manager by rate (18 overturns of 28 calls for 64.3%). He's almost guaranteed to make the Hall of Fame in the near future, but without this last Manager of the Year award. (He already has 3!)
Speaking of retirement, Terry Francona made his announcement with his intent to retire back in early September. Another great manager of this era of baseball history, his being placed 3rd on my ballot was mostly a "thank you" vote from me for his years of service to the game. His luck was a -1 on the year (though this is relatively unimportant) and his challenging ability was good (4th in the AL) with a 56.1% rate over 41 calls ad 23 overturns. However, the Cleveland Guardians missed the postseason a year after comfortably winning the AL Central. Terry Francona (who also won 3 Manager of the Year awards!) will also likely make the Hall of Fame one day soon, but without one last piece of hardware. (And that's okay!)