On November 13th the MLB will announce the manager of the year for the American League. Robin Ventura is a finalist for the award.
When the Chicago White Sox hired Ventura I nearly fell out of my chair, I couldn’t believe it. How could the White Sox sign a manager with absolutely no managerial experience? Not even college or high school.
Well Ventura proved me wrong. He took a team that was chosen by many “experts” to be in fourth place or last place and guided the team to first place for the majority of the year. They were picked to be one of the worst teams not just in the American League but the entire MLB. They weren’t even close to that.
Ventura and his staff brought a total change in the clubhouse. I think that change in the clubhouse helped many players have great years for the White Sox specifically Adam Dunn.
I think that when Dunn came to the White Sox he wasn’t expecting the Ozzie Guillen sideshow. Was that the sole reason for Dunn’s terrible year in 2011? No of course it wasn’t. However, I’m sure it didn’t help.
With pitching Ventura did a great job. He would let Chris Sale and Jake Peavy pitch complete games. He didn’t embarrass rookie Addison Reed when he was struggling. Instead he gave him more confidence by constantly giving him the ball.
With Ventura’s steady hand he guided the White Sox to a near playoff appearance. True, almost only counts in hand grenades, horseshoes and nuclear weapons but it is still impressive for a manger with no experience at all.
Was Ventura the sole reason that the White Sox didn’t make the playoffs? No, I don’t think that he was. Remember, Ventura didn’t have a bat in his hand. It was still up to the players to actually hit the ball. How many times did Ventura say they have to stop relying on the long ball?
That doesn’t mean Ventura isn’t to blame at all. He still made rookie manager mistakes. Near the end of the season when the White Sox were still in first, he kept playing the starters and never gave anyone a day off. I think that is one of the reasons that the White Sox looked so tired down the stretch.
I don’t think that Ventura will win manager of the year. I think that Buck Showalter or Bob Melvin are better candidates. Showalter lead the Baltimore Orioles to their first playoff appearance in well decades.
Melvin helped the Oakland Athletics take the AL West on the last day of the season. Those two feats by both of those managers are more impressive than what Ventura did with the White Sox. If the White Sox made the playoffs then I think Ventura would be a stronger candidate.
I do think that this isn’t the last time that Ventura will be up for manager of the year. Look for Ventura’s name to be on that list and on the list of best managers in the American League for many years to come.
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