Saturday, October 22, 2011

NL Manager of the Year Picks

This post marks the sixth of our eight-part series highlighting baseball's major postseason awards. Today we take a closer look at the deserving candidates, as well as our picks, for National League Manager of the Year.

Kirk Gibson - Arizona Diamondbacks
-Helped orchestrate the greatest turnaround in baseball this season by winning 29 more games than previous year. D'backs won NL West Division title with a 94-68 record while owning league's third-lowest payroll ($54 million).

Fredi Gonzalez - Atlanta Braves
-Guided team to 89-73 record and a second place finish in the NL East Division. Missed Wild Card berth by one game. Boasted a payroll of $87 million.

Tony La Russa - St. Louis Cardinals
-The 67-year old directed the Redbirds to a NL Wild Card berth with a 90-72 record. Did so with the 12th highest payroll in the majors at $99 million.

Charlie Manuel - Philadelphia Phillies
-Led the mighty Phillies to their fifth consecutive NL East Division crown with a MLB-best 102-60 record. Also benefited from the league's highest payroll ($173 million).

Ron Roenicke - Milwaukee Brewers
-Managed his club to a 96-66 record and a first place finish in the NL Central Division in his first season a manager. Did so with a payroll of nearly $86 million.

@RedlegsReview's pick:

Kirk Gibson - Gibson took over a franchise in the middle of last season that had made only one trip to the postseason since 2002. That 2010 team finished the year in the basement of the mediocre NL West Division with a 65-97 record. Just one year later Gibson turned the last place D'backs around to division champs. He did so with a roster full of young players, over-achievers and what some might refer to as "has-beens". He revived the culture of the organization and instilled the same kind of scrappy, hard-nosed attitude he had used as a player. My sincere apologies to Tony La Russa -- who's end-of-the-year wizardry never ceases to amaze -- but I believe the nod for this award will go to the Arizona skipper.

@RedlegsWriter's pick:

Kirk Gibson - "The fact that Kirk Gibson doesn't have a lot of hair probably aided the Cubs." That's one of my favorite baseball calls of all-time from either 1991 or 1992, referring to a play where Gibson was running around the bases and his helmet came off his head, and stopped a surefire base hit rolling to the outfield, which resulted in outs. If you know what I'm talking about, let me know. Anyways, the Diamondbacks were a team a lot of people figured would have a down year with a new manager coming in, but they hung around in the NL West and eventually overtook the defending World Series Champion Giants to win the NL West after finishing in last place in 2010. It had a lot to do with Gibson and the mindset he surely helped set in the Diamondbacks' clubhouse.

Remember to check back tomorrow for our breakdown of the AL MVP Award.

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