Predicting the Winner of the 2014 American League Manager of the Year

As the season winds down and the playoff picture becomes clearer by the day, so do the front-runners for the major awards in Major League Baseball.

These men’s wisdom and guidance have led their respective teams to success in the Junior Circuit and played vital roles in the dugout, on the diamond, as well as off the field.

Here is a look at the candidates for the AL Manager of the Year award.

 

Honorable mentions

Ned YostAfter nearly three decades of playoff drought, the Royals are on the cusp of playing October baseball again thanks to the leadership of Yost. Yost’s team is currently one-and-a-half games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central after surrendering the division lead just a week ago, but the Royals are still holding onto a one-game lead in the wild-card race.

Mike SciosciaOwners of the best record in baseball, the Angels and Scioscia finally managed to mesh all the talents they have together to produce a title contender once again. That’s quite a turnaround for Scioscia, who was on the hot seat after a disappointing 2013 campaign in which the Halos finished 78-84.

Bob Melvin: Despite losing their grip on the AL West after a lengthy stay at the top, Melvin and the Athletics are still poised to make a third consecutive postseason appearance. After a blockbuster trade and a few other notable transactions, Melvin has managed to keep the team focused and connected for the playoff push.

Lloyd McClendon: Surprise playoff contenders this late in the season, the Mariners have turned the page under McClendon’s helm. With a league-best pitching staff and an MVP candidate in Robinson Cano, the Mariners are just a few more late pushes away from their first trip to the postseason since 2001.

 

Winner: Buck Showalter

When Showalter first took over the Baltimore Orioles in the summer of 2010, he envisioned a scene like this on Tuesday night.

People may have thought him mad at the time, considering the fact that the O’s were an MLB-worst 32-73 at the time he was named manager, but Showalter trusted the organization he joined.

He believed in the Orioles’ successful past and wanted to make connections between that and the team’s present and future. He wanted to change the losing culture that saw the O’s have sub-.500 seasons for 13 years and counting at the time he inherited the team.

Sports on Earth’s Richard Justice recounted Showalter’s tactics on Wednesday:

Showalter wanted his players to understand that it hadn’t always been this way. So he lined the hallway leading to the home clubhouse at Camden Yards with photos of Frank Robinson and Cal Ripken, with Jim Palmer and Brooks Robinson. He wanted his guys to understand that the Orioles had a rich history of winning, that their community had once cared deeply and that they had a chance to rekindle that fire.

That fire was lit once more on Tuesday night after the Orioles won the American League East for the first time since 1997.

Baltimore was the first AL team to clinch its division and did so with a 13.5-game lead. But the season was far from easy,as those numbers may suggest.

Showalter had to navigate around season-ending injuries to Matt Wieters and Manny Machado while trying to manage a struggling Chris Davis. Yet somehow, the 58-year-old baseball sage found the production he was looking for in replacements Caleb Joseph, Steven Pearce and others.

Sure, there were other candidates who may have been better fits for the award at other points in the season, but no one led his respective team to consistent success like Showalter did. Throughout the entire season, the Orioles never had a losing streak longer than four games.

When it’s all said and done, the Orioles could very well add a pennant or a World Series trophy to their collections. And Showalter should have a third AL Manager of the Year award.

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