Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Why I picked Wash third for manager of the year
By Todd Wills
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington received one third-place vote for American League Manager of the Year. I gave him that vote.
My ballot: 1. John Farrell, 2. Terry Francona, 3. Washington. I also considered Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon and Oakland's Bob Melvin for my third-place vote. Farrell and Francona were shoe-ins for my first two selections.
Francona was announced by the BBWAA as the winner Tuesday night. Personally, I thought Farrell was a slam dunk for the award, taking Boston from worst to first in the AL East, the league's best division. Our votes were turned in at the end of the regular season. The Red Sox winning the World Series further validates that selection in my mind.
But this is about why I picked Washington third. Here's why:
I began researching and getting an idea of who would be on my ballot I turned into the BBWAA at the beginning of September. At that point, Washington was at the top of my ballot. The Rangers started the month a game ahead of Oakland in the AL West despite several key injuries that included Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis, plus the bust that was Lance Berkman as the team's designated hitter.
The Rangers had 79 wins when Sept. 1 rolled around, and you could argue Washington was doing the best managing job of his career with the Rangers' offense in the middle of the pack in runs scored, all the injuries, the lack of production from anyone not named Adrian Beltre, etc.
Then the Rangers hit a three-week swoon that saw them fall out of the AL West race, putting them in danger of not making the playoffs. They lost Nelson Cruz to a 50-game suspension. They lost six games at home to Pittsburgh and Oakland to drop 6 1/2 games out of the first place in the AL West.
What I saw on the following road trip to Tampa Bay and Kansas City was a manager that held things together and didn't panic. The Rangers went 3-4 on the trip and lost heart-breakers in St. Petersburg and Kansas City, and still Washington never wavered, setting the club up for that final seven-game homestand.
With the Rangers needing seven wins to have any hope of at least getting into a tiebreaker game -- the way the schedule set up for Cleveland and Tampa Bay, there was no other option -- Ron Washington's club did just that. They won seven straight games when they absolutely had to.
I thought that was a direct reflection on the manager as his team fed off his energy and his belief in them.
That's why I gave Washington my third-place vote.
The Rangers won 91 games with three players having career years -- Joe Nathan, Tanner Scheppers and Neal Cotts. That's it.
Under extreme pressure, with a club hanging on the edge because of injuries and Cruz's suspension, Washington held his team together.