I’d like to say I voted for a dark horse in the competition (Acta, Washington) but I went with the obvious choice – Joe Maddon. My grandma used to say “It’s not over till the last pitch is pitched” and Joe Maddon’s 2011 Rays were a prime example of that mindset. Literally down to the last pitch of the season and pinch hitter Dan Johnson ties the game with a home run, then a few innings later Evan Longoria blasts a walk-off homer to push the Rays into the playoffs. A lot of the team’s success can be given to the players but if you have a manager who no longer believes in the team then the team will stop believing in itself. All season long the Rays stuck around and were never really forgotten about or eliminated from playoff talks. With a pitching staff like Tampa’s and an offense that can do some damage teams were always afraid of the Rays. Maddon never gave up on his team and that’s why they were able to hang on through 162 games.
We were required to vote for three managers so Maddon was my first, Tigers manager Jim Leyland was my second, and Yankees skipper Joe Girardi got my third vote. FanSided writers of National League teams gave Arizona Diamondbacks rookie manager Kirk Gibson NL Manager of the Year honors.
I’m anxious to see the other awards announced – we voted on a few of things and they’ll be announced throughout the next couple of weeks. Keep an eye on Call to the Pen as more award winners are revealed.