The 2021 IBWAA Awards (My Ballot): NL Manager of the Year
Over the next two weeks, I am going to be 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 National League Awards, continuing 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: Dave Roberts
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Managing Line: 106-56 Record (Pythag. of 109-53, -4 Luck), 54.5% Challenge Win Rate (12 of 22), $247M Salary (1st in MLB)
Dave Roberts brought his team to a 106-win season, and yet I don’t think he is worth anything more than 3rd place when it comes to the yearly managerial award, and while that is low praise to some, it is high praise considering my evaluation of managers. Dave Roberts did not win his division, he underperformed the underlying metrics of his team, and he was tied as the 5th best National League manager when it came to his challenge rate. Plus, he did this with a team that has the highest salary in the MLB! But, his team also won 106 games: the second most in the MLB in 2021 and tied for the 18th most wins in all of MLB history. That should mean something…but to me, this season, it meant 3rd best.Embed from Getty Images
Name: Mike Shildt
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Managing Line: 90-72 Record (Pythag. of 85-77, +5 Luck), 54.5% Challenge Win Rate (6 of 11), $163M Salary (10th in MLB)
There has to be something said for a manager who kept his team in-it throughout the 2021 season, helping them get into the playoffs with a last-push. (What you’ll learn here is that the manager of the year award, in my opinion, is the most heavily influenced by a good story.) Mike Shildt’s team was in 4th place in his division though 81 games this season. They were just barely above a .500 team with about a month to go in the season. But, call it luck or whatever, they went on to go 22-7 in September and make the playoffs. Most middling teams would not have been able to go on their incredible 17 game winning streak. It may have been a fluke, but Shildt’s team is the embodiment of not giving up and- at least in some respects- getting rewarded for that effort.Embed from Getty Images
Name: Gabe Kapler
Team: San Francisco Giants
Managing Line: 107-55 Record (Pythag. of 103-59, +4 Luck), 62.3% Challenge Win Rate (12 of 19), $149M Salary (11th in MLB)
I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone else who is going to win the Manager of the Year award in the National League. Not only did he lead his team to the best record in the MLB (and tied for the 13th most in MLB history), but he did so while beating his teams Pythagorean record (indicating he made good decisions to win close games), had the 3rd highest challenge win rate in the National League, and he did so with a team that is in the middle in terms of salary commitment. Nobody on ESPN expected the Giants to win the NL West (and only 1 gave them a Wild Card spot), nor did anybody at CBS Sports. Heck, Sports Illustrated said they’d go under .500. Kapler took the underdog and made them *THE* team to beat. That’s awesome.Embed from Getty Images