Buck Showalter Robbed

While we bask in the glow of R.A. Dickey‘s Cy Young Award win — and get in your celebration quickly, because who knows how much longer he’ll be a Met — I’d like to discuss the Manager of the Year Awards, which kind of flew under the radar while we waited for the “more important” awards.

The BBWAA named Davey Johnson as the National League Manager of the Year. Amazin’, isn’t it, that it was almost 25 years ago that Davey was manager of that team in Flushing?

Meanwhile, the writers chose Bob Melvin as MoY of the Adulterated League. Normally, I don’t care much about what happens in the AL. But in this case, I don’t understand how anyone — much less Melvin — could have been chosen over Buck Showalter. Am I missing something?

A few years back, a book came out called Moneyball. Soon thereafter, Brad Pitt starred in a movie of the same name. If you got anything out of that book/movie, it was that if the Oakland A’s won ballgames, it was because GM Billy Beane did such an astounding job of outsmarting every other GM in MLB, assembling a team full of under-valued players. Further, it was made pretty clear that Beane’s manager was more or less a push-button puppet; in other words, it didn’t matter who was the manager, because his job was to be a robot soldier, executing Beane’s plan.

So if this is true, how in the world could a manager under Billy Beane be named “Manager of the Year”?

But let’s look beyond that for a moment, and look at what the Orioles did in 2012. Check that: let’s look at what Buck Showalter to a fifth game against the Yankees in the ALDS. The Orioles very nearly won the AL (b)East, stunned the reigning champion Rangers in the one-game Wild Card shootout, and very nearly upset the mighty Yankees. Take a long, hard look at Baltimore’s 25-man roster and try to figure out how that was possible; it’s akin to attempting to explain Bobby Valentine‘s 2000 Mets going to the World Series. Their postseason lineup included castoffs such as Nate McLouth and Robert Andino; heck, Lew Ford was their DH in one game! This was a team whose starting third baseman for most of the season was Wilson Betemit, and whose pitching staff had only one pitcher in double-digits in wins. Not to mention, Showalter completely trashed and overhauled his starting rotation in May / June. After seeing how Showalter played the cards he was dealt, I felt there was finally an example that poo-pooed the Beanehead theory that managers couldn’t or shouldn’t have an effect on a team’s won-loss record; Showalter’s 2012 managerial prowess proved that the right man in the dugout CAN have a significant, positive impact.

Which makes it so ironic that it was Beane’s “Robotic Bob” Melvin who came away with the Manager of the Year Award.

Maybe I’m crazy, or not understanding something. Let me know your take in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. derek November 15, 2012 at 11:34 am
    I dont get it with Buck…I thought he had a harda$$ persona after he got fired from the AZ and yanks jobs…but on baseball tonight he came across as a good guy and fair..He even showed a sense of humor on show…not sure if he has a bad communication with reports but he got robbed this yr…winning in the al east with that team is def way more impressive then what oak did…
  2. Joe November 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm
    Other than the potshot at Beane, what exactly did Oakland have to do what it did? The Orioles seemed on its way back, if going further than most thought, but Oakland was if anything even more of a surprise.

    Seriously, snark aside, sure Buck very well would have earned it, but was he really “robbed”?

  3. Tom November 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm
    Yes, he was robbed. If you followed a team that won 16 or 17 straight extra inning games…that’s amazing… then posted I do believe the greatest winning percentage in one run games in history. He did this with a starting rotation that was not very good, but using his outstanding bullpen to absolute perfection to win all these games and so many close ones. No arms fell off, as he did a superb job keeping all the players as fresh as possible. This was by far anything better than any manager I have seen in watching baseball for 45 years. Yes he WAS ROBBED!!!
    • Izzy November 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm
      If you want to give Buck credit for the frsh arms then you really would rather have Duquette be GM of the year instead. They had a bunch of arms with options and Duquette used the Norfolk/BWI shuttle to full advantage sending guys down when Buck used them hard and sending them to Norfolk for a rest. Duquette had young depth and used it wisely. I’m not knocking Buck because the O’s didn’t belong in the playoffs based on talent but Duquette far outdid anything that the overhyped and overpaid Alderson ever pulled off.
      • Tom November 15, 2012 at 10:56 pm
        The GM did a great job certainly…but I remember other “great” managers like Billy Martin who literally wore his staff out from misuse. Buck defined roles…everyone was comfortable and willing to handle responsibility no matter what the role was. He had a knack for playing the right moves at the right time. I see your point, but really you made a argument the Oriole front office should get an award as well as Buck. I do not disagree. Take care…good to have a chat about the Orioles lol…
        • Izzy November 16, 2012 at 7:32 am
          Exactly Tom, Duquette was GM of the year. My last statement stated I wasn’t knocking Buck. I’m never against a guy dumped by the Yankees doing something good to hurt the Yankees. The O’s forced the Yankees to not rest their aged roster and helped ensure them got knocked out of the playoffs even if it wasn’t the O’s to do it. Buck deserves a pay raise for that alone.
    • Joe November 15, 2012 at 9:45 pm
      What was the secret of Oakland? Players anyone heard of wasn’t a leading contender there.
  4. Bethany November 15, 2012 at 7:29 pm
    Oriole fan here. And while I would love to see Buck recognized for all the fabulous work he did this year, I think he knows he doesn’t need an award to know how much he means to all of us. He knows he’s MOY in our eyes, and I think that means more to him than any award can, no matter how prestigious it may be.
  5. argonbunnies November 16, 2012 at 2:33 am
    Melvin’s players hit and pitched much better than expected in all situations (run differential: +99).

    Showalter’s players hit and pitched much better than expected in clutch situations (run differential: +7).

    So, the choice is either to give Melvin credit for putting all his players in a position to excel all year, or for Showalter going to the right pitchers in the 7th through 11th innings of close games.

    If Melvin did some particularly creative and effective picking of “who’s in the lineup today”, I could see giving him major props for that. If he was just following platoon formulas, though, then whatever, any major can do that when handed a roster of platoon guys.

    Either way, I’d give it to Showalter. Though I don’t think we can give him credit for his rather static lineup’s clutch hitting.

    • argonbunnies November 16, 2012 at 2:36 am
      Must… proofread… posts… “major” should have been “manager”, and “for Showalter” should have been “give Showalter credit for”. Ugh. I apologize, English.
    • Joe Janish November 16, 2012 at 9:17 am
      Static lineup? I’m not sure that’s the term you meant to use. Showalter penciled JJ Hardy in the #2 spot and Adam Jones cleanup, and every other spot was more or less a free-for-all, with players shuffled around almost daily. He had 8 different guys bat leadoff, for example.