The Orioles will not win any of the major BBWAA awards for the 2016 season. That’s no big surprise considering that the only person revealed to be in the top three for his respective award was manager Buck Showalter. When results were announced on Tuesday night, Showalter placed in third. The winner was Cleveland’s Terry Francona.
Also up for the award was Jeff Banister of the Texas Rangers.
Showalter was named on 18 of the 30 ballots submitted by BBWAA writers - two from each AL city. He received two first place votes, nine second place votes, and seven third place votes. That left him with 44 points, ahead of Boston’s John Farrell, who also had two first place votes but only 28 points total.
Often, though not always, the Manager of the Year award is more like an award for the manager of the team that most overachieved its preseason media expectations. Given that the media once again counted out the Orioles back in March, the fact that they played so well as to win 89 games and qualify for the postseason explains why Showalter got attention for this year’s award.
Although Showalter also took a deserved beating among fans and media for the AL Wild Card Game decision that shall not be named, none of that would have affected the voting. All voting for BBWAA awards is concluded before the postseason begins. It’s not why he didn’t win.
More likely, Showalter didn’t win because the other two finalists were both helming division winners. Seven of the last ten managers to win the award were in charge of division-winning teams. As well, Showalter’s Orioles won “only” 89 games, and only four winners since the creation of the award in 1983 (not counting strike seasons) have been in charge of sub-90 win teams.
Interestingly, the trio of Francona, Showalter, and Banister make up the three most recent AL Manager of the Year winners prior to this year. Francona won for leading a 92-70 Indians team in 2013. Showalter won the third Manager of the Year of his career - for the third different team - for leading the 2014 AL East champion Orioles. Banister led the 2015 Rangers to an AL West title.
So, there was going to be a repeat winner no matter what happened. There has never been the same winner in consecutive years in the AL. That happened once in the National League when Bobby Cox won in both 2003 and 2004.
With a win, Showalter would have joined Hall of Fame managers Tony La Russa and Cox as the only four-time winners of the award. Maybe next year.
The Orioles probably won’t get much preseason respect from the media once again in 2017, setting up the chance, if they have another good season, for Showalter to be another top three finisher.