Here’s the most intriguing question of the 2022 awards season: How did BBWAA voters for NL Manager of the Year screw up so badly?
The Manager of the Year voters nominated Dave Roberts of the Dodgers, Buck Showalter of the Mets and Brian Snitker of the Braves as their top three. The final three were superficially understandable as together they combined to win 313 games, all three of their teams exceeding 100.
Here’s the problem: They did so with the three strongest talent bases in the division.
Showalter’s Mets spent something like a gazillion dollars to amass the talent that brought them their 101 wins. Roberts’ Dodgers have the game’s best and deepest roster. As for Snitker, he was piloting the defending champs.
Manager of the Year ought to be about overcoming adversity, something none of the three BBWAA finalists was required to do at any point in 2022.
Not that there weren’t perfectly good Manager of the Year candidates in the National League.
Where’s Bob Melvin on awards night? Melvin guided a San Diego Padres team into postseason play despite the absence for the entire season of the team’s best (or if you like Manny Machado its second-best) talent, Fernando Tatis Jr.
And as we learned in August, Melvin not only had to guide the Padres through the injury-forced portion of Tatis’ absence, he had to hold the team together through the potentially wrenching news of Tatis’ 80-game suspension for failing a PED test.
That news alone could have upended some very good teams. The Padres played .542 ball after news of that suspension broke.
Next question: Why wasn’t Phillies manager Rob Thomson nominated for Manager of the Year? Thomson took over a Phillies team that was seven games under .500 in early June and immediately — as in an eight-game win streak — turned them around. By season’s end, a listless club with a worse record than the Pirates, Rockies and Diamondbacks had won 65 of the 111 games Thomson managed and qualified for postseason play.
I get it that voters don’t factor postseason performance into their voting, so Thomson gets no credit for actually winning the NL pennant. I’m fine with that; doesn’t matter. He should have been nominated merely for his work taking this underperforming bunch to the postseason alone.
Put Melvin and Thomson in two of the three finalist spots for NL Manager of the Year, and give the third spot to your choice of Roberts, Showalter or Snitker. But leaving both of those overperformers off the list entirely makes the NL Manager of the Year award — no matter who wins it — just a bit of a travesty.