Wedge named AL Manager of the Year
NEW YORK ” Eric Wedge and Bob Melvin, former backup catchers who found far more success in the dugout than on the field, were honored Wednesday as managers of the year.
Wedge became the first Cleveland manager to win the AL award, picked by a wide margin after the Indians tied Boston for the best record in baseball. Melvin won the NL prize for leading the young Arizona Diamondbacks to the top mark in the league.
Wedge received 19 of the 28 first-place ballots and got 116 points, finishing ahead of the Angels’ Mike Scioscia (62 points). Joe Torre, who left the Yankees, was next with 61 and Terry Francona of the World Series champion Red Sox got 13.
Melvin was chosen on 19 of the 30 first-place ballots and got 119 points. Philadelphia’s Charlie Manuel (76), Colorado’s Clint Hurdle (58) and the Cubs’ Lou Piniella (25) followed.
Wedge, a no-nonsense guy with a John Wayne calendar in his office, guided the Indians to a 96-66 record. Cleveland made its first playoff appearance since 2001, then lost to the Red Sox in Game 7 of the AL championship series.
Melvin, 46, was chosen for his steady hand in leading a team that sometimes started six rookies to a 90-72 mark. Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, Arizona swept Chicago in the first round and then got swept by Colorado in the NLCS.
Wedge and Melvin are among nearly a dozen former catchers who manage in the majors. Many of them were far from standout players ” in fact, Wedge and Melvin each hit .233 in their careers.
The 39-year-old Wedge played 39 games for Boston and Colorado in the early 1990s. He’s done a lot better with the Indians since starting out 68-94 in 2003 in his first season as a manager.
The Indians stayed near the top of the AL Central all season, and took over first place for good on Aug. 15. They went a major league-best 31-13 to finish the season.
C.C. Sabathia, picked as the AL Cy Young Award winner Tuesday, and Fausto Carmona each won 19 games to lead Cleveland. With a mix of veterans and younger players, the Indians were in good hands and the team rewarded Wedge with a three-year contract extension in July.
Melvin played 10 years in the majors with seven different teams. He managed Seattle in 2003-04, then took over in Arizona in 2005.
A year after Arizona went 76-86 and tied Colorado for last place in the NL West, the Diamondbacks surged to the top. They did it despite getting outscored by 20 runs, becoming the first team in the majors since the 1906 Chicago White Sox to have the league’s best record despite the worst batting average.
Melvin’s evenhanded approach meshed well with his young team, which lost stars Randy Johnson and Orlando Hudson to season-ending injuries. After losing eight of 10 going into the All-Star break, Arizona went 43-29 in the second half.
Eric Byrnes and rookie Chris Young led the offense, and Melvin could always count on ace Brandon Webb and closer Jose Valverde. Melvin also benefited from the experience of bench coach Kirk Gibson.
Seven managers got votes on the NL ballot. Manuel received seven first-place votes after Philadelphia won the NL East, Hurdle got four first-place votes with the NL champion Rockies and Piniella got two first-place tallies after winning the Central in his first season with Chicago.
San Diego’s Bud Black, Washington’s Manny Acta and Milwaukee’s Ned Yost also received votes.
Scioscia got four-place votes after leading Los Angeles to the AL West title. Torre, since hired by the Los Angeles Dodgers, got the other five first-place votes.
The NL Cy Young Award will be announced Thursday. San Diego’s Jake Peavy, who led the league with 19 wins and topped the majors in ERA and strikeouts, is the heavy favorite.
Boston’s Dustin Pedroia and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun were voted the Rookies of the Year on Monday.