There are a lot of different ways to look at the 2012 Manager of the Year award that went to Bob Melvin instead of Buck Showalter. As I said yesterday, I think that Melvin was a very worthy candidate. However as is the case with many things, awards as such always lead to people saying that someone got robbed. I’m not sure that robbed is the correct term to use in this case. Had Joe Girardi won the award since he was able to get his team into the playoffs “with all of their injuries” (as was suggested by Dan Shulman of ESPN), I’d feel differently. However Orioles fans shouldn’t feel too shafted by the Melvin decision.
That said, in the interest of playing devil’s advocate I would submit that there were a few things that worked against Buck Showalter over which he had absolutely no control. First off (and this is a bit of a stretch), the Orioles had three gold glove players in 2012. While the BBWAA don’t vote on gold gloves and this vote was taken prior to them being announced, conventional wisdom told most people that Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy were shoo-in’s to win the award. Adam Jones was always going to be in contention as well, and of course he ended up winning himself. Oakland had one gold glove winner in Josh Reddick. Is it possible that voters thought Showalter could have had a slightly easier time with more [potential] gold glovers?
One could also argue that the Moneyball movie last year brought a lot of awareness to the Oakland Athletics and what they’re all about. In the wake of that, GM Billy Beane sold off Gio Gonzalez among others and the franchise gave the impression that they were starting over. Their miracle season was in no way expected or planned. The same is very true of the Orioles, who were supposed to lose 100 games. However again, is it not possible that the influence of Hollywood might have made Melvin and the Athletics’ story just a bit brighter?
Those first two scenarios are stretches to a point. Gold glovers and Brad Pitt movies aside, both teams were thought of as finishing in an epically bad manner in 2012 at the beginning. However keep in mind the timing of the vote; immediately after the culmination of the regular season. (On a side note, I’ve heard many people argue that the postseason should be a part of the Manager of the Year vote. Count me as definitely against that; how could you help but vote the World Series-winning skipper Manager of the Year each time?) The A’s swept the Texas Rangers in very dramatic fashion in the last series of the year (in Oakland) to win the AL West. They were the toast of baseball for a couple of days, as they spent all of one day – the last day of the season – in first place. Given the human element of the vote, I would submit that moment was still very much on the minds of the voters when they cast their ballots. And who among us could really blame them for that? It was an amazing story and an amazing moment for Melvin, the A’s, and their fans.
Let’s take the above-mentioned point one step further; remember September 30, 2012? The O’s defeated the Boston Red Sox in the final regular season home game of 2012. All they needed was for Texas to beat Anaheim, and they’d clinch a playoff spot. The Orioles and their fans waited after the game to watch the final outs of the Texas game on diamondvision, however the Angels came back and beat the Rangers that day. It wouldn’t be until later that evening when the Orioles were on their flight to Tampa that they’d learn they had clinched a playoff spot when Texas beat Anaheim in the nightcap of a twin bill. Again, let’s not forget the human element of the vote. The voters never had the opprotunity to see Buck Showalter’s Orioles celebrating on the field like they did Melvin’s A’s. This is a very small, and perhaps petty point. However when human beings are the ones voting, sometimes those kinds of “moments” can put one candidate over the top.
Ultimately, Melvin did a class A job managing his team in 2012, as did Showalter. This isn’t the NFL where you can declare a game a tie after one overtime quarter, however I would have been okay with both guys being co-Managers of the Year in this case. Showalter said that if he had a vote he would have voted for Melvin as well, which really tells you something about him and how humble he is. With all of this said, it’s worth mentioning that Dusty Baker has three MOY awards…but no World Series titles.