Though Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell appears to be a runaway for AL Manager of the Year, Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin has a strong case to pull off the upset.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced the three candidates: Farrell, Melvin and the Cleveland Indians‘ Terry Francona. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. ET on the MLB Network.

Of course there are those who will claim he has no chance, so let’s take a look at the others first. In fact, this tweet doesn’t even list Melvin in the debate:


In his first year with Boston, Farrell led the Red Sox to a World Series victory. Not only that, Boston finished last season with the worst record in the AL East, the third-worst record in the AL and the seventh-worst record in the league. From 69 wins in 2012 to 97 one year later.

You might make the argument that 2012 was a down year. The talent was the same, but the season was marred by dysfunction.

Then again, Farrell proves how much of an effect a manager can have on a team. Good talent with Bobby Valentine? Fail. Same talent with Farrell? World Series winners.

Still, the list of superstars on that team is large.

Their rotation is filled with guys who could all be aces. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli—these are all big-name guys. As long as they’re happy, they’re expected to compete at a high-level. writer Matt Pepin thinks it’s no contest:


The Indians had the fourth-worst record in the league. With one less win in 2012 than Boston, Francona managed the team to 92 wins this season. That’s an equally impressive turnaround, and Francona did it with less talent.

Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer explains why he chose Francona:

“Did anyone really believe the Indians would win 90 games this season? Especially if you knew that ace Justin Masterson wouldn’t make one start after September 2? Or that closer Chris Perez would have a nightmare second-half? Or that big-ticket free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn would have seasons that are slightly below their usual standards?”

Then there’s Melvin.

Few expected the A’s to compete in 2012, and in Melvin’s first full season, he led them to 94 wins and a postseason berth. Even so, entering 2013, there were talks of 2012 being a fluke, and the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels still were viewed as heavy favorites for an AL West crown.

And yet the A’s won it again, with ease this time.

Additionally, Oakland improved on last season’s record—albeit not by 20-plus wins like Boston and Cleveland—by two wins, from 94 to 96.

That’s just it, though.

The Red Sox and Indians had those expectations. They have the talent. They have the big-name superstars and big-name managers. If all three teams had the same record, you can guarantee the A’s would come up short in power rankings and in odds.

Melvin improved even though he lost key locker room guys like Brandon Inge and Jonny Gomes. He also lost Brandon McCarthy, Stephen Drew and Chris Carter. Likewise, he had to welcome in and figure out where to play Jed Lowrie and Chris Young.

Beginning the season, Melvin—the entire A’s organization and fanbase really—figured Hiroyuki Nakajima would be the starting shortstop. That didn’t pan out from the start, and Melvin successfully found the solution quickly.

Because he didn’t have the superstars, he turned back to platooning. And that may be the strongest argument in favor of Melvin as Manager of the Year again.

Melvin found a way to do as much damage, with less.

As tweeted by 95.7 The Game, MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger agrees:


Parker started out awful. Melvin stuck with him and he rebounded. Tommy Milone faltered. Melvin adjusted the rotation accordingly. He lost Carter and inserted rookie Nate Freiman into a platoon. Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp all missed a big chunk of time, but he made it work.

Writing lineups and running a team is like a puzzle. Farrell inherited a large, eight-piece, colorful and distinct puzzle. Francona put together a 40-piece puzzle of a mostly clear picture.

Melvin chipped away at a 100-piece puzzle with bland colors.

Ultimately, Farrell finished his puzzle first, and it’s prettier. However, Melvin should be heavily considered just based on how well he did constructing his much more difficult puzzle.

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