They say the Manager of the Year award, for better or worse, usually goes to the manager whose team most surpassed expectations. That was certainly the case in 2017 as Paul Molitor of the Minnesota Twins and Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks each won the award for the first time after guiding their teams to huge turnarounds.
Between them, the Twins and D-backs lost 196 games in 2016 — and in 2017, both clubs made the postseason. The Twins were more of a surprise than the D-backs, but both accomplishments were good enough to earn Manager of the Year awards for Molitor and Lovullo.
The second day of Major League Baseball’s postseason awards held a lot more mystery than the first, as all six Manager of the Year finalists had legit cases for winning. There was no sure-thing like when Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger won the Rookie of the Year awards.
In the NL, Lovullo, the first-year D-backs skipper, was honored for turning a 93-loss, fourth-place team into to a 93-win postseason team in just one season. In the AL, Molitor was praised for guiding the Minnesota Twins to a postseason spot after losing 103 games in 2016.
Lovullo earned 18 of 30 first-place votes cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts finished second. Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black finished third. Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers finished fourth and Dusty Baker, who was fired by the Washington Nationals, finished fifth.
Molitor earned 18 of 30 first-place votes. Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona finished second. Houston Astros skipper A.J. Hinch finished third. Joe Girardi, who wasn’t brought back by the Yankees, finished fourth. Here are the standings in each race. The individual ballots are available on the BBWAA site.
Lovullo, 52, made the most of his first season as a big-league manager, taking that D-backs team that underachieved so much in 2016 and helping it realize its potential. The D-backs finished second in the NL West, but made the postseason as a wild-card team.
This win by Lovullo means that a first-year manager has won a Manager of the Year award the past four seasons.
Molitor, 61, already put his name in the record books this year because his Twins team was the first to ever go from a 100-loss season to the playoffs the next season. Nobody expected a postseason berth for the Twins — perhaps not even their front office, because they were sellers at the trade deadline. Turns out it was enough to give Molitor this award too.
By winning, Molitor is now just the second person in baseball history to make the Hall of Fame as a player and win the Manager of the Year award.
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