Cox, Showalter Get Manager of Year Awards
Bobby Cox and Buck Showalter were given little chance of success after payroll purges pushed out key players. Proving the predictions wrong, their teams won, anyway, and so did the managers. Cox was voted NL Manager of the Year on Wednesday for leading the Atlanta Braves to an unexpected 13th straight division title, and Showalter won the AL honor for turning the last-place Rangers into a contender after Texas traded MVP Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees.
“Some of the fans probably thought we weren’t going to make it this year, but we did,” Cox said following his third manager of the year award. “I think I’m as thrilled this year as I ever have been with one single team.”
Coming off four straight last-place finishes in the AL West, Texas cut its payroll in half and wasn’t predicted to do well. But the Rangers rebounded and remained in contention until the final week of the season. “I would have picked us the same place everybody did, too,” said Showalter, who won for the second time.
Cox received 22 first-place votes and 10 seconds for 140 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Tony La Russa of St. Louis, who has won four manager of the year awards, was second with 62 points after leading the Cardinals to a major league-best 105-57 record. Jim Tracy of Los Angeles was third with 52. “I thought Tony deserved it, to be honest,” Cox said. “I would be more than happy to split that trophy and have both our names on it.” Atlanta, struck by injuries to key players, was 33-39 after a loss at Baltimore on June 25, then went 63-27. “We were treading water for a good part of the season until we got everybody back and finally took off,” Cox said.
Cox won the AL award with Toronto in 1985 and the NL award with the Braves in 1991, the first year of Atlanta’s record run.
After the departures of pitcher Greg Maddux and sluggers Gary Sheffield, Javy Lopez and Vinny Castilla, the Braves were predicted by most to finish third or lower in the NL East. But the Braves wound up 10 games ahead of second-place Philadelphia.
Well deserved in both cases. Cox is almost certainly the best regular season manager in baseball and gets too little credit for the Braves’ amazing run of success. While it’s arguable that he didn’t win as many World Series titles as he should have given the immense talent the team had in the mid-1990s, he won division titles in several seasons where, on paper, the Braves were less talented than other contenders.