The most emotionally challenging of his 10 seasons as leader of the Angels culminated in Mike Scioscia’s selection on Wednesday as 2009 American League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
It was Scioscia’s second Manager of the Year award. He was named by the BBWAA in 2002, when the Angels claimed their first World Series title under his direction after entering the postseason as a Wild Card.
Scioscia, who is the first manager in Major League history to pilot six postseason teams in his first 10 seasons, received 15 of a possible 28 first-place votes for 106 points.
The Twins’ Ron Gardenhire finished second with six first-place votes and 72 points. Joe Girardi of the Yankees (four first-place votes) was third, followed by the Mariners’ Don Wakamatsu (two), the Rangers’ Ron Washington (one) and the Tigers’ Jim Leyland.
Manager of the year is the most meaningless award in sports, as it is very difficult to distill the impact of a manager from the talent of his players. How much of the Angels’ success attributable to Scioscia? What about Joe Girardi? Girardi did a very good job keeping his roster fresh despite the advanced age of many of his regulars, handled the bullpen masterfully, and helped foster a family atmosphere in the clubhouse. His club also won 103 games. Him finishing third suggests that he never had a shot at the award, which underscores its worthlessness.
I am not suggesting that Girardi deserved the award. Rather, I am suggesting that the entire concept of the award is an exercise in futility. It is an honor that goes to a manager who dealt with adversity or had a team that improved a lot. It is not an award given to the person who did the best managing job.