Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams gets it. It is so obvious, in fact, that Williams almost sounds like he has been managing for years. It’s pretty safe to say he was probably managing in his head when he was coaching third base for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Coaching with Kirk Gibson probably helped a bit too.
Williams, as a former four-time Gold Glove award winner and a five-time All-Star, knows that players will need rest, and that rest can be a key to having successful players. Williams has said he will give players days off regardless of their attitude towards it. Williams seems to have no problem telling a player they need a day off, and if they are not happy about it? Well, tough.
Williams understands he is the manager and they are his players, and he needs to have their best interests at heart, which sometimes includes keeping them out of lineup and protecting them from themselves.
Good managers are also prepared, but Williams takes his preparation to the next level. He has gone on record saying that he has the first 25 days of Spring Training prepared down to the most mundane details. Not to say Williams’ predecessor Davey Johnson was not a good manager or not prepared, but it’s pretty obvious the two have very different approaches to managing.
Williams wants to blend intensity and hard work, putting pressure on opponents while putting his players in a position to succeed. Johnson wanted his players to succeed, but he also wanted them to be loose and comfortable. Williams certainly wants that too, but he will definitely stay on top of them and sit them if they are struggling, and also give them plenty of rest as needed.
Williams is ready to manage, and it’s really obvious. He’s prepared, he’s excited, he has energy and is at a prime age to develop with this team. He will build connections with players that will lead them to play hard for him and also perhaps stay long term. It definitely would not shock me if Williams is a front-runner for Manager of the Year halfway through 2014.
Right now, Williams would be my pick for Manager of the Year, because he is ready and will prove that in 2014.