Another day, another trophy? Almost seems that way this post season, but this is a case of a lot of grinding toil that is being recognized.
The nice guy has finished first – both figuratively and literally. The field manager of the Atlanta Braves, Brian Snitker, was named Tuesday evening as the National League’s Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
The makes the 5th (and final) trophy that has been corralled by the Braves here in November: 3 Gold Gloves, a Rookie of the year honor, and now this.
The voting was actually close. While Snitker easily had the most 1st place votes (17 out of 30 total ballots), he lagged behind the Brewers’ Craig Counsell in 2nd place votes (9 to 13). Combined with Counsel’s 11 1st place nods and a smattering of 3rd place votes, the final tally gave it to Snitker 116-99.
Like Ronald Acuña, Snitker was named on every ballot cast. Counsell was left off 1 ballot.
A late arrival to the season, Mike Shildt of the Cardinals, got 7 votes of consideration while Dave Roberts of the Dodgers was the only other manager to get a vote.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman was a voter for this award and nailed the outcome exactly in the order of finish… as did 11 other voters.
The voters placing Snitker in the 3rd spot were Bruce Levine of WSCR Radio/670TheScore.com (Chicago), Drew Olson (iHeart Media, Milwaukee), Ken Davidoff (New York Post), and Eddie Matz of ESPN.com.
In truth, this award is closer to a beauty contest than a measure of a manager’s actual performance. That said, this Braves club turned themselves completely around in 2018… going from a 72-90 record in 2017 to 90-72 in 2018… a remarkable jump of 18 games.
Sure: the talent has to be there to make that happen, and Atlanta brought up a pile of it this season. Yet it was still a very young group, with multiple rookies starting on most days and several bits of string and duct tape holding all of the parts and pieces together as the lineup morphed throughout the season.
The managers nonetheless get credit for such things, and that’s perfectly fine by me if the voters believe that those who exceed expectations should win. Clearly in such situations, a manager has the ability to screw things up, but they can also have a positive influence.
Here’s one example… and he didn’t wasn’t even around (this season):
Great managers will get the best out of their team. They create the atmosphere in which your guys are most likely to succeed. They celebrate with you, but also help you get through the hard times.
The Road Less Traveled
Snitker knows this because his own road has been tough. His own playing career was unremarkable, but even then he was a Brave.
He played from 1977-1980, mostly at the A and AA levels with just 6 games at AAA Richmond. In those 4 seasons, he saw 872 plate appearances, hitting .254 and OPSing .706… mostly as a catcher.
Since then he had been all over the minor league map for the Braves (including some coaching under Bobby Cox and Fredi Gonzalez) before being named as the caretaker of the managerial role after the removal of Gonzalez.
That was supposed to be as far as this tale would go… except that the players themselves decided to force the issue. The ‘interim’ title was removed and a 1 year contract was given. Then another 1 year contract for 2018.
Now it’s 2 more… with a chance for 2021… and a chance of having a heckuva team behind him.