Rocco Baldelli of the Minnesota Twins was named American League Manager of the Year, and Mike Shildt of the St. Louis Cardinals won the National League honor, it was announced Tuesday on the MLB Network.
The 38-year-old Baldelli is the youngest person to win the top manager honor. The Twins went 101-61 and won the AL Central title under Baldelli in his first season on the job.
“What I can say is nobody takes on the responsibility of working in baseball or doing a job like this for personal accolades,” Baldelli said in an interview after the announcement. “I do everything that I can but it doesn’t matter necessarily. You need an entire group.”
The 51-year-old Shildt is the first manager of the year winner to not have professional playing experience. His Cardinals won the NL Central with a 91-71 record.
“My personal goal was to play in the big leagues and I got to college at UNC Asheville and realized that was not going to happen,” Shildt said after earning the honor. “I was a below-average college player and I set my sights on being the best coach I could be and the journey has led me here.”
Shildt won the NL award despite receiving fewer first-place votes (10) than runner-up Craig Counsell (13) of the Milwaukee Brewers. But Shildt received 14 second-place votes to Counsell’s six to win the award by seven points, 95 to 88.
Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker (45) received three third-place votes while finishing third. Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers received four first-place votes and placed fourth with 25 points. Dave Martinez (15) of the Washington Nationals was fifth.
In the AL, Baldelli and runner-up Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees each received 13 first-place votes. But Baldelli also received 13 second-place votes for 106 points to outdistance Boone by 10. Boone received nine second-place votes.
The Tampa Bay Rays’ Kevin Cash (33) received three first-place votes while finishing third. Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics was fourth with 19 points and the Houston Astros’ A.J. Hinch had 12 points. Hinch received one first-place vote.
Minnesota smacked a major league record 307 homers in Baldelli’s debut season.
It was just the second 100-win campaign in the franchise’s 59-season Minnesota era behind the 1965 Twins (102-60). Baldelli’s win total was 23 higher than the team’s 2018 output.
He joins Tom Kelly (1991), Ron Gardenhire (2010) and Paul Molitor (2017) as Twins managers to win the honor.
Baldelli is just the second AL manager to win the award in his first full season. Jeff Banister of the Texas Rangers was the first in 2015.
Boone guided the Yankees to a 103-59 record and the AL East crown while winning 100 or more games for the second straight season. He worked around a number of injuries throughout the season, a list that included lengthy stints for outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, third baseman Miguel Andujar, starting pitcher Luis Severino and reliever Dellin Betances among several others.
New York slugged 306 homers, one behind Minnesota.
Cash led the Rays to a 96-66 record and an AL wild-card berth. The club flirted with 100 wins despite being without 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell for nearly two months due to elbow surgery.
Shildt joins Whitey Herzog (1985) and Tony La Russa (2002) as St. Louis managers to win the award.
Shildt’s Cardinals were 44-45 after a loss on July 12 but recovered to win the division. Shildt wanted little of the credit that comes with winning the top managing award.
“This is an organization award, this is a team award, this is really a players award,” Shildt said. “My job is not to win an individual award. ... I accept it graciously on the behalf of our players and our staff and our front office and ownership. It is an amazing blessing.”
Counsell guided the Brewers to an 89-73 record and an NL wild-card berth. He oversaw a 20-4 stretch to begin September as the club prospered despite the late season loss of star Christian Yelich due to a fractured kneecap.
Counsell was NL runner-up for the second straight season.
Snitker finished with a 95-67 record while guiding the Braves to the NL East title. He won NL Manager of the Year honors last season when Atlanta went 90-72.
—Field Level Media