The finalists have been announced in the National League Manager of the Year category for Major League Baseball’s end of the season awards. They are Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves. Each manager clearly did a great job getting their respective teams through the grueling regular season but Gonzalez is most deserving of this honor for 2013.
First of all it seems a bit ironic that two of the three finalists have had to deal with just as much slamming as they have praise for their managerial jobs this past season. I think it will probably be one of the two often slammed Gonzalez or Mattingly that will take the award but it should definitely go to Fredi. The Dodgers certainly owe Mattingly for the job he did but to be honest, a lot of that had to do with the right players catching on fire at the right time.
He deserves plenty of credit for managing the roster in a way that allowed the hot players to lead the team and I don’t pretend he doesn’t. However, Gonzalez just had more to overcome. He lost Jason Heyward twice, one of them at the end of the season with a broken jaw of all things. NL MVP candidate Freddie Freeman was down for a while at the start of the year as well.
In addition to those losses the Braves lost Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty, two of the best relief pitchers over the past few years within a week or so of each other. Add to that the fact that staff ace Tim Hudson had a gruesome broken angle end his season just when he was getting hot for the stretch run. While we are adding on, don’t forget the B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla situation.
Fans need to stop blaming Fredi for finding playing time for those guys. Their contracts are not his fault or his problem. Their bad play is their problem and their too-large contracts are Frank Wren’s problem. Fredi’s job was to find a way to manage a winning team in spite of two starters stinking it up all year long. All the Braves did was finish with the second best record in the National League.
He dealt with way more adversity than the other finalist and still had a promising playoff run cutoff by Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. Fredi deserves the win period. Maybe then some Braves fans will give the guy a break. Of course I know that’ll never happen. Nonetheless he is one of the best managers in MLB whether everyone agrees with it or not. The stats do not lie.