Major League Baseball returned to its 162-game regular season following a 60-game campaign in 2020. Managers had to find a way to keep their players fresh and healthy amid the significant increase in workload, all while They dealt with the normal challenges and responsibilities of managing a major league team.
Six drivers did a particularly good job guiding their ninths this season and were therefore nominated as finalists for the Manager of the Year awards from the American and National Leagues.
Here’s a look at each of the six nominees before the winners are announced Tuesday on the MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET.
Baker, in his second season in charge of the Astros, led a team that won 95 games and its fourth AL West title in the past five years. He became the first manager in Major League history to win division titles with five different teams (Astros, Nationals, Reds, Cubs and Giants). Houston’s in 2021 was the eighth of his career.
The Astros were hit by injuries this year. They lost ace Justin Verlander for the entire season after he underwent Tommy John surgery and third baseman Alex Bregman for 59 games for strained quadriceps. Starting pitchers Jake Odorizzi, Lance McCullers Jr., Zack Greinke and Mexico’s José Urquidy also visited the disabled list.
Baker also publicly brought calm and normalcy to a team that was booed non-stop en route for the role some of its players played in the 2017 sign-stealing scandal. Additionally, the roster was constantly changing; Players were constantly in and out of the COVID disabled list, the club traded its starting center fielder mid-year and acquired four relievers, changing the face of the bullpen to make it a fortress before the playoffs.
Baker, who was the Giants Manager of the Year in 1993, 1997 and 2000, has won 1,987 games, the 12th most in history. Ten of the 11 foremen who have the most are in the Hall of Fame. Baker has managed the Giants (1993-2002), Cubs (2003-2006), Reds (2008-2013) and Nationals (2016-2017). – Brian McTaggart
Often times, this award tends to end up in the hands of a team that exceeded expectations and predictions before the start of the season. So the fact that Cash is a finalist again after winning the award in 2020 speaks volumes for how well he handled the challenges the Rays faced.
By mid-June, the Rays were without their top three starters for the 2020 World Series team: Charlie Morton (option not exercised), Blake Snell (traded) and Tyler Glasnow (injured). They spent most of the season without the best reliever of that club from last year, Nick Anderson, and traded Diego Castillo to the Mariners. They faced a litany of pitching body injuries, navigated several offensive bumps from some of their best players, and traded a key player in clubhouse culture (Willy Adames) in late May.
None of that mattered. The Rays finished with the best regular season performance in franchise history by winning 100 games and easily won the AL East, so it’s simply impossible to ignore the impact Cash and his coaches had on the club. He will finish with the best record of the Young Circuit.
Cash created a positive and relaxed atmosphere that allowed the players to feel comfortable being themselves. He seamlessly managed a roster built on depth and flexibility rather than stars, using 61 players (including 38 pitchers) and 158 different lineups during the regular round. He is a skilled driver when it comes to making decisions in games, putting his players in the best position to be successful and getting them to accept their roles (even if they are not always traditional), while supporting them when they go through the occasional slumps. .
As the president of the Rays baseball operations department, Erik Neander, put it: “I can’t imagine someone doing a better job than he has done here.” Is there a better argument than that? – Adam Berry
What stood out the most about Servais’ work in 2021, beyond his status as the anchor of an incredibly loyal clubhouse, was his handling of pitching, specifically with a repowered bullpen that emerged as one of the best in the Big Top. . Much of the success of that body of relievers is due to the work of the management, but it was Servais who was charged with using them in the right situations. On just one occasion the Mariners used a reliever three days in a row.
Seattle began the season with a six-starter rotation to regulate the workload on its youngsters, but the club quickly suffered injuries that forced Servais to use bullpen games at least once each rotation shift in May and June. And although the results of those games were not the best, Servais managed to use his pitchers without completely exhausting them. That relief handling was a key factor in the Mariners, despite finishing with a -51 run differential, winning 90 games.
Servais also dealt with tough off-the-field challenges that impacted the clubhouse, such as the resignation of team president and CEO Kevin Mather during practice and the controversial change of Kendall Graveman, one of the cave’s leaders, to the clubhouse. Astros. If anything defined the 2021 Mariners, it was their determination to win despite those moments. – Daniel Kramer
Craig Counsell, Brewers
Counsell’s footprint on these 95-game-winning Brewers was not limited to successfully handling pitching as he grappled with the jump from a 60-game campaign in 2020 to 162 in 2021. The club used a total of 61 players during the regular season, eight more than any other edition in franchise history. The Brewers managed to overcome a stretch in May in which they had 18 players on the disabled list, plus a nearly-season slump from star outfielder Christian Yelich. Milwaukee began its rise in the second half of that month, building what would end up being a record 14 games ahead of the rest of the division and enduring the attack of some Cardinals who won 17 games in a row in recent weeks and the same. they finished 5.0 of the Brewers in the NL Central.
“He’s very capable and talented at using his players to the best of their ability, based on their abilities, to win games,” said David Stearns, the president of the Brewers baseball operations department. “That was certainly no different this year. We had more players than we have in a normal year, but Craig knows how to help them to put the team in the best possible situation, something he has done since he has been here.
No Brewers strategist has ever won the BBWAA Manager of the Year award, but Counsell is always in the fight. After finishing fourth in 2017, he has been among the top three finalists in 2018, 2019 and 2021. – Adam McCalvy
Kapler had a huge responsibility ahead of him when he replaced Bruce Bochy as the Giants manager in November 2019. The move was not well received by Giants fans, but the president of the baseball operations department, Farhan Zaidi , defended the decision and made it clear that he was willing to risk his own reputation by making Kapler the chosen one to lead the club.
Two years later, it is difficult to disprove the results. After going 29-31 in his first year at the club, Kapler led the Giants to a franchise record of 107 wins and their first NL West divisional title since 2012, something quite remarkable taking note that, according to the projections of the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA system, the forecast was 75 wins. – Mary Saved
While Braves manager Brian Snitker hosted a trio of starting outfielders in the middle of the year that turned out to be key to winning the World Series, Shildt received a bevy of modest pitching improvements. And what did you achieve with that? Well, just the longest string of wins in franchise history – 17 wins in a row in September – to catapult St. Louis to the postseason, their third straight trip to October.
Although Shildt was fired after the Cardinals lost in the NL Wild Card Game, he was praised within his clubhouse for his handling of the cave and the way he kept the team afloat despite the problems they went through in June. . Additionally, the fact that St. Louis won five Golden Gloves, an MLB record, speaks as much about Shildt and the players who earned them, as his focus on detail is a hallmark of his work. – Zachary silver
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