Bob Melvin - AL Manager of the Year
OAKLAND -- His club's biggest cheerleader this year, A's manager Bob Melvin received deserving applause of his own on Tuesday.
After guiding a group of rookies and castoffs to a magical 94-win season and American League West title, Melvin finished first in voting for American League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Melvin, who edged Baltimore's Buck Showalter and Chicago's Robin Ventura in this year's balloting, won the National League's Manager of the Year Award in 2007 with the D-backs.
"Absolutely shocked," Melvin told MLB Network. "Buck had such a great year, and just to be talked about in the same light, with respect to baseball people like him and Robin Ventura, it's quite an honor for me. So, yeah, shocked would be the right word."
In just his first full season at the helm in Oakland, after taking over the reins in June 2011, Melvin steered the A's to their first playoff appearance since 2006, guiding the club -- predicted by many to rack up as many as 100 losses -- through a remarkable stretch run that culminated in a Game 5 loss to the Tigers in the American League Division Series. This following the offseason trades of All-Star pitchers Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey.
"I can't say that I've been with a team with so little expectations early in the season to end up where we did," Melvin said. "Pretty magical season. I was the bench coach in Arizona when we won the World Series there [in 2001], but boy were there some things that happened this year that I've never seen before."
Melvin's A's, who faced a 13-game deficit to Texas on June 30, became only the fifth team in Major League history to win a division or pennant after trailing by as many or more games. Moreover, by winning their last six games of the regular season to clinch the division title on the season's final day, the A's became the first team to overcome a five-game deficit with fewer than 10 games remaining to win a division or pennant.
During that time, Melvin worked with an all-rookie starting rotation and crafted multiple lineups that featured a handful of platoon players, some of which were out of their normal positions. It was his confidence in them, along with the strong communication ties he formed with them, that earned him respect in the clubhouse.
"He's always had a good sense of looking at talent and putting it on the field in a way that's going to best enable his team of a win," said Phil Garner, a special adviser to the A's.
"He does a great job of mixing everyone together and making everyone feel like they're always going to be successful," added A's bench coach Chip Hale, a longtime friend of Melvin. "I think he's gotten the most out of players who, in the past, haven't performed that well. He knows guys' personalities, knows when it's a good time to get them in, get them out and give them some rest."