Joe Maddon will not repeat as the NL’s Manager of the Year, as Dodgers manager Dave Roberts takes the honor. Maddon finished second in the voting, and Dusty Baker finished third.
Roberts, like Maddon with the Cubs last year, was in his first season with the Dodgers in 2016. Although we always hear about the Dodgers’ huge payroll, the reality is that their actual on-field team at any given time this season was something much less than that, thanks to an onslaught of injuries. Roberts, as near as I could tell, did an excellent job dealing with those injuries, handling a clubhouse of stars, and guiding the Dodgers steadily to the playoffs.
Baker was also in his first season at the helm of a new club, helping net the Nationals 95 wins and a final spot atop the NL East standings. Given how they’ve disappointed in recent years despite a killer roster, I think Baker does deserve some credit for getting the best out of his players (and all that without Bryce Harper being Bryce Harper).
Maddon, of course, guided the Cubs to 103 wins in a dominant regular season (when balloting closed), by far the most in baseball. Although the Cubs had relatively good fortune with health, that is not to say creativity was not frequently required to maximize the Cubs’ performance in each game. The defense was sublime, thanks in large part to excellent positioning. The pitching usage was fantastic more often than it was troubling, despite it being one of those areas folks seem to criticize on a nightly basis. And, of course, the tone Maddon set off the field – the way he helped guide younger players through their development while also managing a playoff contender – was pitch perfect.
Although he came in for some criticism late in the postseason, the reality is, the Cubs couldn’t have it much better than with Joe Maddon. He came along at the perfect time for the perfect team, and he’s got 200 regular season wins in two seasons to show for it. Plus, you know, the Manager of the Year title last year, and the world title this year, so things aren’t all that bad.