Sox skipper John Farrell gets cheated in Manager of the Year voting

The Newtonite

Thinking Outside The Batter's Box is a blog about baseball published every week.
Thinking Outside The Batter’s Box is a blog about baseball published every week.

by Jacob Gurvis

Following the regular season and postseason, baseball continues its never-ending journey through its seasons, with the next stop being “award season,” which is one small part of the offseason. It’s the shortest of the seasons, but by no means is it dull or boring, as all major awards are announced in the weeks after the World Series.

So far this year, one award result stands out to me as the wrong decision. Every once in a while, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) announces an award winner that is considered by some to be wrong, debatable, or unfair. This, to me, is one of those times.

The 2013 American League (AL) Manager of the Year is…Terry Francona. Yes, you read that right, and no, it didn’t say “John Farrell.” So now John Farrell can be the latest addition to the list of award snubs.

Let me back up for a minute. I think the bigger issue here is that the nature of the award itself is misleading. The Manager of the Year Award isn’t given to the best manager. It is given to the manager who brought his team from being very bad to very good, or who did something impressive or unusual. MVP and Cy Young, on the other hand, are given to the best players, not the ones who were most surprising or unpredictable. There’s an award for that, as that is essentially the Comeback Player of the Year Award.

So if we call it Manager of the Year, the assumption would be that the best manager would win it. If that were truly the case, Rays manager Joe Maddon and former Tigers skipper Jim Leyland would have been winning the AL Manager of the Year every season, as they were the best. But they didn’t win it every year, because the award is given to the most surprising manager, not the best.

Joe Torre was an amazing manager with the Yankees for many years. He managed them from 1996-2008, and only won the award twice, both in the 90s. So because it was no surprise that he was successful, he didn’t win it, even if he was the best.

With that trend in mind, let’s go back to 2013. If the award is given to the most surprising and unexpectedly successful manager, then one would think that John Farrell bringing a team from worst to first, going from 69 wins to 97 wins, winning the most talented division in baseball, picking up a team amidst chaos and unrest and instilling values of respect, teamwork and camaraderie, would merit an award.

Well, the BBWAA disagreed.

I understand that awards are determined before the playoffs. If they were voted on after the playoffs, the manager who wins the World Series would win pretty much every time. So I get that the Red Sox’s 11-5 World Championship playoff run didn’t factor into the decision. But the league-leading 97-win, AL East Division Champion Boston Red Sox were absolutely more impressive than the 92 win, AL Central second place Wildcard Indians. The Sox never lost more than three games in a row all season. They were the best team in baseball from day one in 2013. And who led them to their greatness? Well that would be John Farrell.

The bottom line is this: the award itself is confusing and doesn’t make sense. But given the way it works, though wrong, the award should at least be fair within its own parameters. If the award is going to be given to the most surprising and impressive manager, then it should be given to the manager who best fits that description. And in 2013, there is no doubt that John Farrell was that manager.