2011 NL Connie Mack Award
It is that time, once again, to start taking a look at each of the major year end awards. As I did last year, I will be submitting a ballot here on the blog for each of the awards selected by the BBWAA. However, as a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, we use a different selection of names for our awards – out own tribute to some of the game’s greats and because the BBWAA has actually asked us to do so (to avoid confusion, I presume). Over the past two seasons the BBA and BBWAA have chosen the same recipient for nearly every award.
To kick things off this year we will take a look at the men in charge of leading each team on a daily basis. The 2011 National League Connie Mack Award goes to …..
This choice was surprisingly simple. Taking over the team midseason, Kirk Gibson led the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 34-49 record to close out the 2010 season. The team finished with one of the worst bullpens in history and a higher offensive strikeout total than we’ve ever seen before. The team underwent a dramatic roster realignment the following offseason but expectations for 2011 were still minimal at best.
Yet, here we are a season later and Gibson’s Diamondbacks have won the NL West and may finish the regular season with the second best record in the National League. Sure, a good amount of the credit for the team’s turnaround is due to the players on the field – new additions brought in before the season, players who performed above expectations, etc. But give Gibson his due here. He was a tenacious player, never pulling back his efforts and never quitting. He got this team to believe in that same mindset this season and the team responded on the field.
Ron Roenicke deserves a good deal of credit for the work he’s done in leading the Milwaukee Brewers to the NL Central crown. The team went all in this year (picking up Zack Greinke and Shawn Marcum via trades) and Roenicke succeeded in guiding them to the first step in their journey – one that hopefully includes a lengthy postseason run that may or may not help convince Prince Fielder to stay in Milwaukee longterm.
Third place will be Charlie Manuel. While Manuel has led the Philadelphia Phillies to the league’s best record, that is exactly what was expected of them this season. The Phillies have amassed a great deal of talent recently and boasted a pitching staff to be rivaled with at the start of the season. Yes, things didn’t go completely to plan – as Roy Oswalt missed time due to injury and Domonic Brown completely faltered as Jayson Werth’s replacement – but the team still had enough talent to win.