I won’t go as far to say that candidates like Ron Gardenhire, Ron Washington, and Joe Maddon aren’t deserving American League Manager of the Year recipients. Far from it.

However, it’s become clear that Boston Red Sox skipper Terry Francona doesn’t get as much respect from the Baseball Writers Association of America as one might think.

Before I get into any analysis, let’s examine the facts:

Francona is currently the third longest tenured manager with any one Major League team (only Ron Gardenhire of the Twins and Tony LaRussa of the Cardinals have been with their respective teams longer). 

Francona has won and managed the most playoff games of any Red Sox skipper, and has the best postseason record since Bill Carrigan went 8-2 from 1913-1916. He and Carrigan are the only Red Sox managers with multiple World Series titles on their resume.

His record of 565-407 (.581), is second only to Joe Cronin (1,071-916; 1935-47) in terms of games managed in Red Sox history.

Francona has led the Red Sox to the playoffs in five of the seven years he’s been with the team, despite having to battle the ever-present New York Yankees, and newly emerging Tampa Bay Rays.

You can legitimately make the case that Terry Francona is the greatest manager in the history of the organization. 

It was under his watch that the Red Sox broke the 86 year curse that had filled Red Sox fans with agony and despair for decades. His World Series championship in 2004 single-handedly changed the way the Boston Red Sox were perceived. No longer were they the lovable losers who couldn’t manage to get over the hump. No longer was a successful season judged by whether or not the Yankees won the World Series that year.

You might think that a manager with a resume like Francona might be a valid candidate for the AL Manager of the Year. Yet, this is not so. In his seven years with the team, Tito has never won the award, nor has he ever finished above fourth place.

In fact, he’s never even received a single, solitary first place vote.

The irony of the situation is that Francona’s history with the award is representative of his style of management. Francona receives little credit for the team’s success, yet often bears the majority of blame for when things do go wrong. This is just how Francona likes to do things.

Terry is the consummate players manager. He has never, ever thrown any of his player’s under the bus publicly, for any reason, large or small. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, the Boston Red Sox clubhouse has and always will be filled with could-do-no-wrongers. 

When the team plays poorly, or when a questionable decision is made, Francona is the first one to sit down with the media and take accountability.

This is just his style. It might not make him the most flashy or popular manager in the eyes of the outside world, but rest assured, he has the ultimate respect of his players, which is what counts the most when it comes down to winning.

Part of the knock on Francona is that he does little to actually bring the team to success. People have sometimes accredited the recent Red Sox success to the teams ability to spend on high caliber talent. People have often took the “team wins despite him” approach.

I say bologna.

If any year has been indicative of Francona’s ability at the helm of a Major League team, it has been 2010.

Many Sox fans had high hopes for this season, yet a rash of injuries put a damper on title aspirations and ultimately kept the Red Sox from a playoff berth.

Boston was without leadoff man and gold glove caliber outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury for virtually the entire season. Three separate rib fractures limited the high flyer to just 18 games.

The Sox were also without former MVP Dustin Pedroia, who missed the last two months with a fractured foot, and all star first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who missed the last two months while recovering from thumb surgery.

Oh, and catchers Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek, outfielders Mike Cameron and Jeremy Hermida, infielder Mike Lowell, and starters Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett, and Clay Buchholz all missed time due to injury during the season.

By the end of the year, about two-thirds of the everyday starting lineup was made up of minor league journeymen, young kids, and fill ins. Names like Daniel Nava, Bill Hall, Ryan Kalish, and Darnell McDonald quickly became household names.

This, coupled with inconsistencies from the starting rotation (John Lackey, Josh Beckett, and Daisuke Matsuzaka never quite put it together), and one of the worst bullpens in baseball (4.24 ERA, 12th in the AL) might lead fans to think that they had a very poor season. 

But they didn’t. They went 89-73 (.549)

To put this in perspective, the Sox won one less regular season game than the AL Champion Texas Rangers, and three less games than the NL Champion San Francisco Giants.

Injuries to key players + inconsistent pitching + a poor bullpen + playing the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays eighteen or so times a year shouldn’t equal 89 wins. But it did. Terry Francona made it happen.

He kept his players motivated, and got more than anyone expected from an injury-riddled team.

However, like every year, Francona went mostly unnoticed when it came time to dole out the regular season awards.

With many deserving candidates, maybe 2010 isn’t quite the season to put the BBWAA on trial. But rest assured, it doesn’t sit well with me that he’s never gotten any serious consideration during any of his seven seasons in Boston.

He most certainly deserves better.

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