Yesterday, we kicked off our MLB Awards analysis with rookies, and today we move on to managers. This year, strangely, there will be first-time winners in both the American and National leagues for this award.

(One surprise: Despite winning 97 games with the sixth-lowest payroll, Oakland Athletics Manager Bob Melvin was not a finalist for the award this year. He won it last year, so maybe the voters just felt he’d already gotten his due? Still!)

Here are the candidates for American League Manager of the Year and their vitals:

  • Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota Twins: 101 victories, $125M payroll, $1.24M per win
  • Aaron Boone, New York Yankees: 103 victories, $223M payroll, $2.17M per win
  • Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays: 96 victories, $64M payroll, $667k per win

This is a no-brainer decision, although Boone does deserve credit for managing a team with tons of injuries to the second-best record in the league. However, there is nothing to match what Cash did with the team sporting the lowest payroll in the sport.

Last year, Melvin won the award for taking the first team ever with the lowest Opening Day payroll in baseball to October. Cash did the same this year, and so he will earn this award—and no one should complain, even Yankees fans.

(Nothing against Baldelli, either, in his first year as a MLB manager, but Cash was just better.)

Now, the nominees for National League Manager of the Year and their details:

  • Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers: 89 victories, $136M payroll, $1.53M per win
  • Mike Shildt, St. Louis Cardinals: 91 victories, $174M payroll, $1.91M per win
  • Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves: 97 victories, $144M payroll, $1.48M per win

We are not all about cost effectiveness here when it comes to managers. Counsell and Snitker did excellent jobs in leading their teams to more wins than expected, based on run-scoring differential (via Pythagorean projection).

In fact, Counsell squeezed eight more wins out of his team than expected, and that got the Brewers into the postseason as the last wild-card team in the NL. Meanwhile, Snitker juiced six extra victories out of the NL East champions.

Shildt did a great job getting the Cards back to the postseason in a division featuring both the Chicago Cubs and the Brewers, but he underperformed by one victory against his Pythagorean projection. Plus, his payroll was the largest of the bunch.

We like Snitker in this one, simply because he proved 2018 was not a fluke, and he did a lot with what he had to work with this season, just a bit more so than did Counsell.

Stay tuned for Spring 2020 when we start analyzing past award gaffes in MLB!