MLB awards: Why voting for Manager of the Year should include postseason results

MLB awards week rolls on with Manager of the Year results Tuesday night. I want to mention the National League Manager of the Year Award because it was the one on which I had a vote this season. We already know that World Series champion Braves manager Brian Snitker isn’t even among the three finalists (Gabe Kapler, Craig Counsell and the since-fired Mike Shildt make up that group).

On that note, it’s important to point out that every award handed out this week is a regular season award. Not only that, we don’t even get the chance to factor in the playoffs because ballots are due before the postseason begins. 

I can’t reveal my personal ballot until the winner is announced (I’ll do that here once it is), but I’ll simply say that I didn’t have Snitker first. I would have after the postseason. 

In terms of the player awards — Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP — I absolutely don’t think we should be voting with the postseason included. It’s a bunch of small-sample matchups, and I continue to maintain baseball is a team sport that is a series of individual matchups. That is to say, the best player doesn’t necessarily have to be on a winning team. There’s only so much one player can do. As such, I wouldn’t be swayed by postseason player performance. 

Managers are different, though. Postseason decision-making is the most important part of the job. Yes, there’s a grueling regular season, but to navigate that and then put it all together when it matters most is the stuff of an elite manager. 

Let’s keep in mind the Braves lost their best player in July and hadn’t been over .500 the entire year until August. Then they went 36-18 down the stretch. They took out the 95-win Brewers in four games in the NLDS. They took down the 106-win Dodgers in six games in the NLCS and then the 95-win Astros in six games in the World Series. They never faced elimination. 

We saw a Joc Pederson pinch-hit three-run homer to take control in the NLDS. We saw a Jorge Soler pinch-hit home run to take the lead in Game 4 of the World Series. 

There were quick hooks on starting pitchers and a heavy reliance on a bullpen that featured A.J. Minter, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith throwing like prime Billy Wagner. 

Given where they were in late July, to see the Braves end up winning the World Series was absurd. Snitker pushed so many of the right buttons both down the stretch and in the playoffs that he deserved better than a finish outside the top three in Manager of the Year voting.

If I could do my vote over, I’d put Snitker number one. I just had no way of knowing how October was going to unfold. For all I knew, the Brewers were going to sweep the Braves and then I’d have felt better about my vote. And it isn’t like Kapler or Counsell or Shildt were the reason their teams came up short in the playoffs. It makes sense that in a regular season vote they topped Snitker. 

I’m also quite certain that Snitker will gladly take the World Series trophy over the individual hardware. It just seems like this award should be different than the player awards. Managers have a lot more power to swing the game in the playoffs than over the course of 162. Their most important work comes in October and I believe the Manager of the Year vote should reflect it. 

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