The 2021 IBWAA Awards (My Ballot): AL Manager of the Year
It’s week two of my releasing my ballots for the various end-of-the-season awards across Major League Baseball. These are the same ballots/players that I submitted to the IBWAA before the postseason began.
This week we will go through all the American League Awards, starting with the Manager of the Year.
For the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America), voters get to vote for the Top-10 players for the MVP, the Top-5 pitchers for the Cy Young, the Top-3 players for the Rookie of the Year, Reliever of the Year, and the Top-3 managers for the Manager of the Year awards.
A manager sets the tone day-in and day-out for his team. A good manager needs to understand his team, his players, and the season better than everybody else. He needs to be a good communicator between the team and the media. But, most importantly, he needs to know how to win.
Most importantly I care about how a manager does in terms of two things: their teams record and if they beat the Pythagorean record (or the expected win-loss as determined by a teams runs scored and runs against). One metric is not necessarily more determinant than the other in how good I think a manager did, though other metrics such as how good they were at challenging and their teams salary are factors that I considered.
Name: Tony LaRussa
Team: Chicago White Sox
Managing Line: 93-69 Record (Pythag. of 97-65, -4 Luck), 77.8% Challenge Win Rate (7 of 9), $129M Salary (15th in MLB)
After LaRussa started off his post-HOF induction managerial career under extreme scrutiny from a DUI, saying he was fine with a team throwing at one of his players, and apparently losing the respect of his clubhouse…well, that’s hard to come back from. Yet, LaRussa’s team won their division and their most notable star player in Tim Anderson is now vouching for him to return for 2022. He also paired this with the AL’s highest challenge win-rate, though he also issued the fewest challenges, and he did do worse than his Pythagorean record. Overall, however, he took a team with an average salary and got them to win their division. Not bad.Embed from Getty Images
Name: Kevin Cash
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Managing Line: 100-62 Record (Pythag. of 101-61, -1 Luck), 41.2% Challenge Win Rate (7 of 17), $67M Salary (26th in MLB)
Unfortunately for Kevin Cash, and even though it shouldn’t be expected that the team with the 5th lowest payroll in the MLB is winning 100 games…it has also become expected that the Rays are going to be a top AL team. Their front office is likely the best run in the MLB and it shows that their high-profile former executives are running the other best teams in the league. However, his front office being so good- combined with the fac that he had a very low challenge win rate- overmines what Cash does as a manager for his team.Embed from Getty Images
Name: Scott Servais
Team: Seattle Mariners
Managing Line: 90-72 Record (Pythag. of 76-86, +14 Luck), 40.0% Challenge Win Rate (4 of 10), $73M Salary (25th in MLB)
At a point, luck isn’t luck and it’s very hard to overlook winning 14 games above what your team was expected to do. With the 6th lowest payroll in the MLB the Seattle Mariners put themselves into the postseason picture for most of the season, and even though they couldn’t pull it off, they were easily the biggest surprise in the AL. While Servais could’ve had and won more challenges, it’s hard to argue against him being this years AL manager of the year. Heck, Ty France was their top player bWAR (+4.2) and fWAR (+3.5). No offense to him (he had a great year), but given that that is the case you have to give Servais credit for getting that team to 90 wins.Embed from Getty Images