The 2018 season is almost over, and that means the races for some of Major League Baseball’s prestigious regular-season awards — the Most Valuable Player, the Cy Young, the Gold Glove, the Silver Slugger, and the Manager of the Year — are about to end as well.
In this series, we are going to make cases for those players and managers who are in the running for these awards to come away with the hardware in their respective leagues. We will continue our series by examining the candidates for American League Manager of the Year. For all of our stories, click here.
- Alex Cora, Boston Red Sox — The Red Sox have been the best team in the majors by a wide margin this season. After all, they have won 103 games this year and clinched a playoff berth. The Red Sox’s 103 wins are the most in their franchise’s history and Cora — a first-year manager — has been a key cog to their success. Cora has taken basically the same team that John Farrell managed last year, with the exception of J.D. Martinez, and made them into a juggernaut. Like what Chad Finn of Boston.com said back in August, Cora has helped them become this type of unit because he has controlled the clubhouse, stayed positive, rested his players even when they didn’t need it and been transparent in his decision making. With his team rolling now more than ever, Cora may become the first first-year manager in the American League to lead his team to over 100 wins and win Manager of the Year in the same season.
- Aaron Boone, New York Yankees — People wondered how the Yankees would play this year after they did not bring back one of the top managers in the game in Joe Girardi. But, they have played well enough under Boone — a first-year manager — to be one of the top three teams in the majors, along with the rival Red Sox and the defending World Series champion Astros. Boone has been able to handle a loaded Yankees team that features a mix of tremendous young superstars and quality veterans. He has also done well with in-game situations, handling the always intense media, and dealing with problems head-on. Though the Yankees have struggled over their last 21 games (8-13 in that span), Boone is still in the running for this honor.
- Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics — Playing with the lowest payroll in the league, the Athletics have been the biggest surprise this season by far. Normally, the A’s are out of the playoff picture before the trade deadlines and are focused on getting better for the following season. This year, Melvin has helped the A’s win 90 games for the first time since 2013 and do it despite losing the original members of their starting rotation to injuries or being demoted to the minors and fielding a team mostly filled with young players. The crazy part of the A’s run is that they were even playing better than the Red Sox at one point, and that is because Melvin gets the best out of his players, even if they are not the most talented roster in the majors. If the A’s make the playoffs, count on Melvin to be a probable finalist for the award and possibly this year’s winner, which would make him a three-time Manager of the Year recipient after doing it with the A’s in 2012 and the Diamondbacks in 2007.
- AJ Hinch, Houston Astros — After winning the World Series last year, the Astros have pretty much picked up where they left off and been one of the top teams in the majors. The man who led them to the crown, Hinch, has been effective once again through his great communication (both with players and management), calmness and great belief in the organization as a whole. Though he finished third in the voting last year, Hinch could put himself in the conversation again to win it if his team wins over 100 games again under his watch.
- Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays — Traditional thinking says that because the Red Sox and the Yankees are ahead of the Rays in the AL East, Cash may not be in contention for winning the award this year. But, Cash can make a really good case, as Mike Lupica wrote for MLB.com back in August. After all, the Rays are five games behind the A’s for the second wild card spot, even after selling off their best veteran players, including Chris Archer, Nathan Eovaldi, Wilson Ramos, Alex Colome, Jake Odorizzi (offseason) and Evan Longoria (offseason). In addition, he has played over 20 rookies this year — by far the most in the bigs. He is also revolutionary when it comes to pitching, as he and the Rays have used “The Opener” concept — having relievers start games. If the Rays can somehow get to the playoffs, Cash may end up being the one who comes away with the hardware this season.