The World Series Champion Chicago Cubs had four finalists among them, with each of Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester getting the nod for NL Cy Young, Kris Bryant in the MVP race, and Joe Maddon a finalist for his fourth (and second consecutive) Manager of the Year award.
It’s an impressive showing and a testament to the work that every one of them brought to the field each and every day.
That said, someone had to bring each of those guys to the field everyday, and that man is Theo Epstein.
Epstein, the Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations, has long been considered one of the top executives in baseball, after breaking the Curse of the Bambino with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 (before adding another in 2007) and ending the Chicago Cubs long (long) 108-year World Series championship drought just last week.
Indeed, Epstein was presented with the distinguished award – handed out since 1936 – at MLB’s annual general managers meeting in Arizona on Monday night. And although awards and honors tend to mean less than trophies and rings to guys like Epstein, he was selected by a panel of his peers. In fact, 56 Major League executives recognized Epstein for the work he’s done in the Chicago Cubs organization over the past year and have rightfully awarded him for it.
The award was actually voted on before the the Cubs went into the postseason, so he would have won either way, but it’s certainly nice of it to come in the year the Cubs won the World Series.
At SportingNews.com, Justin McGuire runs down a list of the Cubs accomplishments this season, as well as Epstein’s biggest moves since joining the organization. So check out that piece for much more on Epstein and his 2016 win.
Here’s how the rest of the voting shook out:
Theo Epstein, Cubs-13
Chris Antonetti, Indians-9
Brian Cashman, Yankees-8
Jon Daniels, Rangers-7
Mike Chernoff, Indians-3
Mike Rizzo, Nationals-3
Dan Duquette, Orioles-2
Jed Hoyer, Cubs-2
With the season the Indians had and the trades made in New York this year, I’d argue that Chris Antonetti and Brian Cashman were excellent runners up, and both deserving of the award. And it’s also nice to see Jed Hoyer receive down the ballot votes for his impact, as well. Epstein would be the first one to tell you that he couldn’t have done it without Hoyer, so that’s nice to see.
To be fair, much of Epstein’s success this year was actually set up in the years before this one, but when you trade for an MVP candidate (Rizzo), draft another (Bryant), trade for a gold glove caliber shortstop (Russell), acquire three Cy Young candidates (Arrieta, Hendricks, Lester), and trade for (and sign for an additional season) a leadoff hitting, on-base machine, center fielder (Fowler) in four years (among so many other things), it’s not easy to top all that in your fifth.
Of course, putting the finishing touches on an amazing roster and guiding that team into the history books certainly helps.
Theo Epstein is very clearly one of the best executives to have ever pulled the strings in MLB, whether he won the award this year or any other is irrelevant. Barring something absolutely ridiculous, he’s already guaranteed his place in Cooperstown (maybe he’ll even eat some more goat when he’s there).