Earlier this week, we looked at baseball’s Manager of the Year candidates in the National League at the midway point in the season. Today, we take a shot at naming five skippers in the American League that could take away the honors.
Buck Showalter (Orioles): Despite playing in the loaded AL East, Showalter’s Orioles have been one of the bigger surprises in baseball. As of Tuesday, Baltimore was only 2 ½ games out of first place behind the AL-leading Boston Red Sox. The Orioles received a huge boost from MVP candidate Chris Davis, but Showalter is doing his part and again proving that the game hasn’t yet passed him by. In a division with every team playing at least .500 ball, his work in making the postseason will be cut out for him. The Red Sox, Yankees, Devil Rays, and Blue Jays are all capable of making a run.
Ron Washington (Rangers): So let’s see – the Rangers lose star Josh Hamilton and are starting two rookie pitchers in the rotation? Sounds like it would be a recipe for disaster for most teams. Instead, Washington somehow has Texas in first place in the AL West and has guided the Rangers to one of the best records in all of baseball. I’m not quite convinced yet that the team can hold off the Oakland Athletics and get to the playoffs, but to this point, they’ve hung right with them – and Washington deserves some of the credit.
Terry Francona (Indians): Another surprise this season has been the play of the Cleveland Indians. Francona is in his first season with the club after taking over for the fired Manny Acta and has Cleveland thinking playoffs. Despite a young squad with only five players on the active roster over the age of 30, Francona has the Indians in first place in the AL Central over the favored Detroit Tigers. Cleveland has one of the most potent offenses in all of baseball and in the end, that may be the only way to top the pitching-heavy Tigers in the division. After being an outcast in Boston, Francona is having a strong year with the Tribe.
John Farrell (Red Sox): The Red Sox lead the most difficult division from top to bottom in all of baseball, so it’s no surprise that Farrell ends up on this list. He took a big gamble in leaving the Toronto Blue Jays to become the Red Sox’ manager this season, but so far the move has more than paid off. Farrell hasn’t wilted in the spotlight of Boston and not only has the team in contention for the postseason, but atop the entire American League with a 50-34 record heading into Tuesday. Ironically, Farrell, a former pitching coach, presides over the strong offense in Major League Baseball as the Red Sox have scored well over 400 runs this season. This team is built for the playoffs and now it’s just a matter of holding off the rest of the division … which won’t be an easy task.
Bob Melvin (A’s): Melvin may have a difficult job in winning the award as he won it in 2012 after leading the A’s to their first playoff appearance since 2006. But the job he’s doing again this season might be too much to overlook if the A’s remain on track and again get into the postseason. Melvin has Oakland only a ½ game out of first place in the AL West and the Athletics’ .578 winning percentage is the third best in the league. Winning the award again, though, won’t be easy as baseball typically likes to spread the honor around. The Atlanta Braves’ Bobby Cox is the only manager to ever win the award in consecutive seasons in either league so Melvin will have his work cut out for him even if Oakland continues their strong play.