The San Diego Chapter gets two votes for each category. You can read Left Coast Bias' selections here. Mine are below.
Manager of the Year is tough, because it seems the odds-on favorite for the award typically manages a team widely expected to suck before the season started. Which then means the award goes to the team that did the best job proving the prognosticators wrong. I don't have a snappy, simple solution for fixing that; I just point it out.
With that said, whom to vote for? I need to narrow down the field, so let's make it easy - I'll eliminate all teams that finished below .500 this season. The only team I slightly regret dropping from consideration this way is Pittsburgh. Clint Hurdle did a fantastic job (or was the NL Central just that mediocre) keeping them in contention until the end of July; but after that the Pirates collapsed, finishing 18 games under. So it's a slight regret.
That leaves Philadelphia, Atlanta, Milwaukee, St Louis, Arizona, San Francisco, and Los Angeles as the contenders. Atlanta is out; you blow a 9.5 game lead, you get no votes as the league's best manager. San Francisco gets dropped; the Giants faded badly after the trade deadline. That takes us to five. Five is a manageable number.
The Padres Trail ballot for Connie Mack is:
- Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks - Yeah, I'm in the 'vote for the team that most exceeded pre-season expectations' category. Gibson took a Diamondbacks team widely expected to challenge the Padres for NL West basement occupancy and instead led them to the NL West Title. Granted, most of the rebirth in Arizona is the handiwork of several GMs, including Kevin Towers' rebuild of the bullpen. However the Diamondbacks have had one of the more talented rosters in the league for several years, and never played to their talent. Gibson got that talent to shine.
- Charlie Manuel, Phillies - The amount of pressure placed on the manager of a team widely expected to be the best in the league is immense. Many buckle under it. Manuel led his team to the best record in the league.
- Tony LaRussa, Cardinals - He lost his best starting pitcher in spring training, and his early bullpen was a mess. And yet, he found a way to motivate his team and get them into the post-season.
- Ron Roenicke, Brewers - Another manager with the weight of expectations. Prince Fielder is widely expected to play somewhere else next year, so the Brewer management went all in for this season, and brought in a new manager to lead the troops. Additionally, he lost one of the off-season prizes, Zack Grienke, for 6 weeks due to injury. A torrid August secured the NL Central for Milwaukee.
- Don Mattingly, Dodgers - The Dodger organization is a mess. Everyone knows about the McCourt scandal and legal death match with MLB. All that drama affected the major league team. It took them about 4 months to successfully deal with it, but they finally got it together, closing with a 41-28 kick and getting into third in the NL West.