Kirk Gibson won two World Championships for men who were managers of the year. After his first full season managing the Diamondbacks, he has joined Tommy Lasorda and Sparky Anderson.
Gibson received 28 of 32 first-place votes for 152 points and was the second Arizona skipper to win the National League Manager of the Year award. Bob Melvin won it in 2007 by getting 19 first-place votes.
“I certainly had a vision,” Gibson said on a conference call. “It’s certainly not all because of me.”
Gibson won the award over first-year Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke and St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa. Roenicke received three first-place votes and 92 points while LaRussa received one first-place vote and 24 points in voting conducted before the postseason.
The 54-year-old former outfielder won the award by getting a 29-game improvement from the Diamondbacks. He took over the team in June 2010 and they lost 49 of 83 games, finishing with 97 losses — 27 games behind the World Champion Giants in the NL West Division.
This year, the Diamondbacks were over .500 for good after May 25 and gradually worked their way up the division, never relinquishing the lead in the final 45 games. That was highlighted by a nine-game winning streak and a team that had dropped from 90 to 65 wins in the previous three seasons won the division by eight games.
By winning yesterday, Gibson is the fourth former MVP to win the Manager of the Year. Joe Torre won the award with the Yankees in 1998, Don Baylor won it with the Rockies in 1995 and Frank Robinson won it with the Orioles in 1989.
Also getting points in the NL were Philadelphia’s Charlie Manuel (10 points), Atlanta’s Fredi Gonzalez (four points), San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy (two points), Pittsburgh’s Clint Hurdle (two points), New York’s Terry Collins (one point) and Los Angeles’s Don Mattingly (one point).
While Gibson’s turnaround with the Diamondbacks was a year-long process, Joe Maddon’s with the Rays took place in a short span and that likely earned him a second AL Manager of the Year award.
The Rays overcame a nine-game deficit on Sept. 2 and edged the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card on the final day. They won 91 games with a roster that had lost its starting first baseman (Carlos Pena), left fielder (Carl Crawford), a key starting pitcher (Matt Garza) and several relief pitchers from the previous year.
“I like to think of it as a validation of the Rays’ way of doing things,” Maddon said on a conference call.
Maddon won by getting 26 first-place votes and 133 points. Detroit’s Jim Leyland, the 2006 winner, received one first-place vote for 54 points and Rangers’ skipper Ron Washington received the other first-place vote for 31 points.
Three years ago, Maddon won the award by getting 27 first-place votes and beating Minnesota’s Ron Gardenhire. That year he led a team that had never won more than 70 games to a 96-win season and a World Series appearance.
Only 11 players who appeared in 2008 for the Rays suited up last year for Maddon, who made the playoffs with the game’s second-lowest payroll at $42 million, nearly $30 million lower from 2010. That helped make him the seventh winner of multiple awards in AL history, a list that includes Mike Scioscia, for whom he served as bench coach in Anaheim.
Maddon won the Wild Card even as his team opened with six straight losses and eight of the first nine. Tampa Bay did not go 10 games over .500 for good until mid-August and then won 18 of its final 28 games, including six-of-seven from the Red Sox.
“We are the best 0-6 team in the history of Major League Baseball,” Maddon said after his team was eliminated in the AL Division Series by the Rangers. “It was a huge success this year, and anybody that wants to argue otherwise, please come by. I’d be happy to engage in that discussion.”
Maddon is entering the last year of his contract, but does not appear to be headed anywhere in the near future.
“A better place to work, I don’t think one exists in baseball,” Maddon said. “My goal has been to make the Rays into the next century’s Yankees, Cardinals and Red Sox. The more appealing thing to me is to create that kind of tradition here that can be viewed on 50 years from now as being the genesis of that. That, to me, is really an exciting thought.”
Also getting points in the AL, were Cleveland’s Manny Acta (16 points), New York’s Joe Girardi (14 points) and Angels skipper Scioscia (four points).
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.