The mighty East Coast bias that was expected to hand Orioles manager Buck Showalter the Manager of the Year award has been defeated. The man who truly deserved the award has been properly recognized. It wasn’t a landslide by any stretch of the imagination though, Melvin won the award by a mere 4 votes, earning 16 first place votes to Showalter’s 12. But a win is a win.
It really would have been a travesty if Melvin had not won the award. This isn’t meant to downgrade the performance of Showalter or the Baltimore Orioles, who had a phenomenal season in their own right, but this award was meant for Bob Melvin. I understand the notion behind voting for Showalter, the Orioles hadn’t had a winning season since 1997, and lost 93 games in 2011, only to turn it around and win 93 games in 2012. But Buck Showalter had much more to work with than Melvin did.
Over the years the Orioles have made numerous attempts to pull themselves out of the cellar in the vaunted AL East, oftentimes throwing money at their problems. The signings of Javy Lopez, Ramon Hernandez, Aubrey Huff, Miguel Tejada and the huge signing of Albert Belle marked just a few instances of their failed attempts to buy success. At long last it worked. This Orioles team had established stars already going into 2012, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, and Mark Reynolds formed a solid core for this team. Their pitching was supposed to finally come together as Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta were poised to take another step in their development. That didn’t happen, but the emergence of Wei-Yin Chen certainly compensated for their failure. All told, the Orioles were a great story, and it was refreshing to see a new team from the AL East emerge as a contender, but their success pales in comparison to that of the 2012 Oakland Athletics.
Melvin and the Athletics were all but written off as the 2012 season began, but he took a team full of inexperienced players, and rejects from around the league and made them work as a unit. Melvin is the ultimate manager, mixing authority and respect, with the ability to relate to the players and have them know he’s on their side. The Athletics players took to Twitter after the news broke of Melvin’s victory, and the remarks of pride were indicative of the bond Melvin had formed with his players.
Food for thought, imagine if this exact team had been lead by Bob Geren, anyone think they would have taken the AL West? Yeah, me neither.
Melvin is now one of just 6 managers to have won the Manager of the Year award in both leagues, and he has placed himself on the cusp of the upper echelon of MLB skippers. His ascension is somewhat reminiscent of the manager across the bay from the Athletics. Bruce Bochy had experienced success in San Diego, but took it to another level once he arrived in San Francisco. Melvin has had success before as well, but also fell out of favor in those spots. But he did win the Manager of the Year in Arizona. Perhaps Melvin has himself and the Athletics poised to make that jump the the elite level of his profession. There is no better man to lead this team to the promise land, 2013 can’t come soon enough.