Later today, the results of voting for the American League and National League Manager of the Year will be announced. I am here to tell you why Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire deserves the award following the 2010 MLB season.
Since this is a regular season award, Gardenhire's postseason record is not taken into account for this award.
Heading into the season, the Twins were thought to be top contenders in the AL Central. They were coming off a 2009 Central Division Title and were bringing back nearly all the same players, while adding Jim Thome, Orlando Hudson, and JJ Hardy.
My question is this: If I were to tell you the Twins would not have Joe Nathan pitch one inning in 2010, and Justin Morneau would not take an AB for the second half of the season, where would you predict the Twins to finish in the American League?
If you answered "AL Central Title, and second best record in the American League," you would be correct. If you guessed "missed the playoffs," you underestimated the ability of Ron Gardenhire throughout the 162 game marathon.
Gardenhire guided the Twins to 94 wins in 2010. But the most impressive stat is the Twins' record in the second half of the season (mostly without Justin Morneau). They went 47-26 after the All-Star Break. That includes a 2-8 record after clinching the division.
They finished nine games better then any AL team over the second half, with the Yankees trailing them.
In the past, Gardenhire has been overlooked for the award, possibly because of the expectations for the Twins to be contenders year in and year out.
To be able to succeed in spite of those lofty expectations is a feat in itself.
In 2006 and 2009, Gardenhire brought his club back from huge deficits to become division winners. In 2006 the Twins were in first place on the last day of the year, but that was the only day they led the AL Central. In 2009 he led to Twins to a dramatic comeback from seven games down in September, and a win in game 163 to finally oust the Tigers, once again winning the Central.
If I had a team to run and a division to win, I'd hand my club over to Ron Gardenhire in a heartbeat.
In the end, isn't that what it is all about?