The Case for Buck
Orioles manager Buck Showalter was named AL Manager of the Year by The Sporting News on Wednesday, and the Baseball Writers Association of America is set to announce their Manager of the Year award on Tuesday November 13. It’s safe to say that the most plausible finalists for this honor in the AL are Baltimore’s Showalter and Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics.
Buck Showalter – Photo Credit: Washington Post
Melvin and the A’s had a tremendous season. Not much was expected of Oakland this year, after starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey were all traded in the offseason. The A’s were hovering around .500 at the All-Star Break, and played incredible baseball the rest of the year on their way to winning the AL West on the last day of the season. There is no question that this type of season has a lot to do with the job done by a team’s manager.
Like Showalter, Melvin had to deal with a number of injuries. Like Showalter, Melvin’s roster did not have as much talent on paper as the rivals in his division, and much shuffling and juggling had to be done to surpass 90 wins. But unlike Showalter, Melvin’s franchise has a recent history of winning.
Since 1997 the A’s have won the AL West 5 times, most recently in 2006. Since 1997, the O’s have basically lived in the basement of the AL East. Much has been made of what Buck Showalter did in Baltimore, from orchestrating one of the finest bullpens in the majors to shuffling the lineup to near perfection each night. But look at the macro level of Buck’s accomplishments. It took time, but he has completely shifted the culture in Baltimore from one of losing, to one of winning. Certainly Buck had help, notably from Andy MacPhail and now Dan Duquette, but the steady force of calm, consistency and confidence in the clubhouse was Buck. This is a man who leads by example, expecting the best from his team, while remaining calm and level-headed in the face of pressure.
This season was not a flash in the pan. The record speaks for itself – Buck is AL Manager of the Year 2012.