Tag: Buck Showalter

2014 MOYs Buck Showalter, Matt Williams Embody 2 Sides of Baseball Management

On the surface, Matt Williams and Buck Showalter have a lot in common: They’re both former corner infielders (though Showalter never cracked a big league roster), they’re both managers of Beltway-based clubs and, now, they’re both 2014 Manager of the Year winners.

But there’s also plenty that separates the two skippers, including a decade-and-a-half of managerial experience.

Showalter, the AL winner, has spent 16 seasons at the helm of various MLB teams: Four with the New York Yankees, three with the Arizona Diamondbacks, four with the Texas Rangers and five with the Baltimore Orioles. And he’s made a habit of winning MOY every decade—in 1994 with New York, in 2004 with the Rangers and on Tuesday with the Orioles.

Williams, meanwhile, just finished his first season as the top man in the dugout after an exemplary 17-year playing career, during which he netted four Gold Gloves and made five All-Star appearances. 

“As a newcomer to the managerial fraternity, it is a privilege just to be considered amongst the best in our game,” Williams told USA Today‘s Paul White after receiving the National League prize from the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

And he deflected credit to his players: “These guys made my transition easy,” he said, per ESPN.com.

If Williams leaned on his players, Showalter’s players lean on him. “We present ourselves as a prepared team, and we feed off our leader,” Orioles outfielder Adam Jones told Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun.  

It makes sense to trust a guy who has racked up 1,259 wins, third-most among active managers.

That’s not to say Williams doesn’t command respect in the clubhouse. The Nats hired him with the expectation that he’d be a players’ manager, as The Washington Post‘s Adam Kilgore reported in October 2013. 

But there’s simply no substitute for experience; greener managers often have to rely on their players, staffs and front offices, as Williams admitted to Kilgore, “It just means that our organization had a great year. We set out with the goal to be competitive every day and to go out there and have a chance to win, and we accomplished that. It’s a sense of pride for the organization.”

To be fair, Showalter often expresses the same brand of humility, despite his expansive resume. “We have great players, I’m just trying to stay out of the way,” he told ESPN.com‘s Johnette Howard in September 2012, as the Orioles were charging toward a 93-win season and a wild-card berth.

This year, Showalter did one better and guided the Birds to their first division title in 17 years. It’s a commendable accomplishment, even if it ended in a disappointing American League Championship Series sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals.

There’s something else the 2014 MOYs have in common: Like Showalter, Williams watched his club fizzle in the postseason, losing in four games in the National League Division Series to the eventual world champion San Francisco Giants.

The general perception is that Williams was outmanaged by San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy, who finished third in Manager of the Year balloting (BBWAA members cast their votes before the playoffs). John Canzano of The Oregonian summed up this line of thinking, undoubtedly shared by many in the Bay Area and beyond:

The bottom line, though, is that this is a regular-season award. And Williams piloted the Nationals to an NL-best 96-66 regular-season record, a 10-game improvement over 2013. 

Showalter can boast a similar swing—his O’s improved by 11 games compared to last year—and that’s surely what voters were looking at.

Williams and Showalter may stand at opposite ends of their career arcs, but this year they each got the one thing that matters: results.

Would both men trade their hardware for an October do-over and another shot at World Series glory? Most definitely. Will they be under an even more intense microscope if their squads make the postseason next year? You bet.

That’s baseball, where the question is always: What have you done for me lately?

For the moment, the grizzled managerial vet and the fresh-faced newbie can revel in an accolade that transcends service time and offers a reminder that each season, be it the first or the 16th, is a gift.

As Showalter told MLB.com‘s Brittany Ghiroli, “I am so thankful to get the opportunity every day. It’s something I never have taken for granted.”


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted. 

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MLB Manager of the Year 2014: AL and NL Winners, Voting Results and Reaction

The Baseball Writer’s Association of America announced the 2014 Manager of the Year awards Tuesday evening, as Matt Williams of the Washington Nationals won in the National League and Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles won in the American League.    

Here are the National League voting results:

And here are the American League results:

Williams led the Nationals to a 96-66 record, the best in the National League, and topped the NL East by 17 games. While the team stumbled in the postseason, keep in mind that the BBWAA awards only take into consideration the regular season. 

Williams quickly deflected any credit for the award to his team, per MLB Network PR:

Still, he joined a pretty exclusive group, per the MLB on Twitter:

Eric James Byrnes of the MLB Network thought Williams was more than deserving:

Meanwhile, Showalter won this award for the third time in his career. Despite injuries throughout the 2014 campaign to key players like Matt Wieters and Manny Machado, Showalter led the Orioles to a 96-66 record and an AL East title, arguably the most competitive division in baseball. 

Showalter also has a knack for winning this award in regular increments, as ESPN Stats & Info tweeted:

Of course, perhaps Showalter winning the award shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to the MLB Fan Cave on Twitter, everybody loves Buck:

Both managers were deserving of the award. The dominance of the Nationals in the NL East was hard to ignore, while Showalter’s job in the brutal AL East despite major injuries was nothing short of incredible.

One would expect both of these managers would have their respective teams in the postseason race again next season.


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Buck Showalter Wins AL Manager of the Year Award: Voting Results, Reaction

On the heels of a season that saw the Baltimore Orioles cruise to their first American League East title since 1997, Buck Showalter has been named the AL Manager of the Year:  

Major League Baseball confirmed the news:

Scott Miller of Bleacher Report passed along the voting results:

The 58-year-old skipper led his team to the second-best record in baseball at 96-66 and past the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series before ultimately falling to the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS.

This marks the third time that Showalter has been named AL Manager of the Year, and the O’s are the third different team he has achieved that honor with as he previously won the award as manager of the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers.

As impressive as his previous award-winning seasons were, this one may very well top the list. Not only did the Orioles win their division by a comfortable 12 games, but they also did so in the face of adversity, as pointed out by Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster Steve Berthiaume:

That adversity included a pair of high-profile injuries with both catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado missing the vast majority of the season.

Baltimore didn’t miss a beat, though, and much of that was due to Showalter’s ability to pull the right strings and rally his team together. Unfortunately for them, the magic ultimately wore off just shy of the World Series.

There was an outpouring of support for Showalter and the Orioles after they were swept by Kansas City with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg hoping for bigger and better things in the future:

Successful teams often must first know what it feels like to fall agonizingly short of a goal before ultimately accomplishing it. Even though the O’s didn’t make it to the Fall Classic, this past season laid the groundwork for future greatness.

Showalter is likely well aware of that, but it didn’t make losing in the ALCS any easier, according to Orioles on MASN:

Even amid the disappointment of elimination, though, Showalter was able to put a positive spin on it and look toward the future with optimism, per Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun:

Through it, we got some good things done. We reminded the country what a great baseball city, and city in general, Baltimore is. I feel good about that. … I guarantee you, we’ll do everything possible to try to give them and the organization and our fans this opportunity again. I can promise you that.

As great of a season as the O’s had, Showalter faced some stiff competition in winning the AL Manager of the Year award. That included Royals manager Ned Yost, who led KC to the postseason for the first time since 1985.

Also, Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia guided his team to a league-best 98 wins and won the Sporting News AL Manager of the Year Award over Showalter, according to Encina:

None of that was enough to knock off Showalter, which truly speaks to his sterling reputation across the sport of baseball.

The Manager of the Year Award is based strictly on regular-season performance, so even though the Orioles didn’t make it as far as they wanted to in the playoffs, there is no denying the fact that Showalter is a deserving recipient of this honor.

While he now has taken this particular piece of hardware on three separate occasions, one can only assume that he would trade them all away for a World Series title in a heartbeat.

That type of personal sacrifice is the hallmark of a great manager, and it is something Showalter possesses in spades.   


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Bleacher Report’s Full 2014 MLB Awards Preview, Predictions

As the baseball industry awaits the first big transaction of the offseason—sorry, Adam Lind for Marco Estrada doesn’t exactly get the juices flowing—the focus shifts temporarily to another matter, the individual awards.

Until there’s a major move either in the free-agent market or on the trade front, the chases and races for MVP, Cy Young, Manager of the Year and Rookie of the Year hold our attention.

Starting Monday, Nov. 10, and continuing every evening through Thursday, Nov. 13, the winner of each honor in either league will be announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

With all of the finalists—three per for all four awards—having been determined earlier this week, here’s a preview of the choices and a rundown of the predicted winners.

Begin Slideshow

2014 ALCS: Showalter’s Skill Means Rainout Helps Orioles More Than Royals

It rained all day yesterday in Kansas City, so much that Game 3 of the American League Championship Series between the Royals and Orioles was postponed.  The rainout gives both teams an extra day of rest, but which team does the rainout help most?

The Royals won the first two games of the series, both close games played in Baltimore, but I think the rainout actually helps the Orioles more than it does the Royals.

Up 2-0 as the series moves back to Kansas City, the Royals have all of the momentum.  They have not lost a game yet this postseason and seem to be a team of destiny at this point.  The Orioles, on the other hand, are on the brink of having their season end soon.

There have been only three teams in MLB history that have come back from a 2-0 hole to win a League Championship Series.  And all three of those lost the first two games on the road and were able to regroup as the series came back to their home turf.

The Orioles, however, lost two consecutive games at Camden Yards and will have to scratch and claw to prolong the series past the minimum four games.

So the day off presumably takes some of the momentum away from the Royals, thus evening the teams a bit.

It’s not just for momentum purposes, though; it’s also the men calling the shots.  Buck Showalter is revered as one of the game’s best managers, while you would be hard-pressed to find someone who disagrees that the Royals have won in spite of Ned Yost, not because of him.

The day off gives both managers the opportunity to reshuffle their pitching staffs as they see fit.  The Orioles can bring back Chris Tillman on regular rest, and the Royals can start James Shields if they choose. 

The O’s need a win in Tuesday’s Game 3, so it would be sensible to put their best pitcher on the hill with their backs against the wall.  For the Royals, it’s a bit different.

Do they want to have Shields pitch against the opposing ace or save him to pitch against the O’s No. 2 starter?  Do they really want to use Shields again this early in the series, or give him a little extra rest so he’s ready to go if the series gets closer?

Those are all questions that Yost can ponder with the extra day off, but Showalter can as well.  It seems like the tide has to turn sometime, and maybe the Orioles will catch a break or two. 

The rainout basically adds up to an extra day of rest to allow both pitching staffs to refuel.  If the series goes six or seven games, whoever handles the pitching staff best will have the advantage. 

If history is any indication, the Orioles are better suited in that department; thus, they are going to benefit more from this rainout.  Give a mad scientist like Showalter an extra day to contemplate future moves, and the results have a good chance of improving.

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