Davey Johnson of the Washington Nationals is National League manager of the year. For what he has done over the course of the 2012 season he deserves it over Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy or anyone else.
Since Johnson took over the ball club in June of 2011 they have compiled a record of 128-97. This year they are currently 88-54 and in first place in the NL East. To many this is a surprise, but not Johnson. He was quoted as saying in spring training that if the Nationals did not make the post season he should be fired.
Johnson is manager of the year, because he has done the hardest thing there is. He has gotten a team with no history of winning to believe it could. Anyone can manage a ball club which has had success. It is the very good ones who can get a team without a winning track record to produce.
Though Washington has been atop the standings for most of the season it has not been an easy one. The Nationals have had to deal with injuries to key personnel such as Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Chien Ming Wang and Ian Desmond. Catcher Wilson Ramos was lost early in the season to a knee Injury. Johnson guided the Nationals through the injuries almost flawlessly as they never gave ground in the standings.
Johnson has had to manage the rookie season of 19 year old outfielder Bryce Harper. Harper was brought up in April after Zimmerman was put on injured reserve. It was believed that he would spend most of the 2012 season at Triple A with the Syracuse Chiefs. Harper arrived amidst great expectations and has not disappointed. With Johnson as his manager, Harper has played solid in the outfield, hit well and displayed boyish enthusiasm. Whether another manager could have gotten the same results we don’t know, but Johnson has.
With the help of general manager Mike Rizzo, Johnson has dealt with the shutdown of pitcher Stephen Strasburg effectively. Strasburg returned from Tommy John surgery at the beginning of the season. He was given a 160 inning pitch limit by the Nationals. Strasburg pitched 159 1/3 before Johnson and Rizzo ended his season. The young right hander does not agree with the decision, but respects it.
There was reason for optimism going into the 2012 season. The Nationals finished a game below .500 in 2011, but showed signs of improvement. With a good young nucleus of every day players and pitchers the only question going into 2012 was whether the ball club could hit and produce runs.
Washington has answered those questions. Led by Morse, Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Desmond and Harper the Nationals lineup can beat you from top to bottom. They are never out of a ballgame and have produced many come from behind victories.
Along with giving a starved fan base winning baseball these are just a few of the reasons why Johnson should be manager of the year.
Whether he wins it remains to be seen.