The Orioles were the most surprising team in all of baseball this year, winning 31 games more than they did last year without having made any significant outside-the-organization additions to the roster. That’s often the kind of thing that helps a manager win Manager of the Year. It didn’t work out that way for Brandon Hyde this year, though. He finished in second place behind three-time winner Terry Francona of the Guardians.
Francona finished with 17 first place votes and nine second place votes, which in the 5-3-1 point system is 112 points. Hyde’s nine first place, nine second place, and seven third place votes netted him 79 points. Seattle’s Scott Servais had one first place vote and a total of 43 points. Houston’s Dusty Baker picked up the last three first place votes, although he finished behind Servais with 31 points.
The Guardians, it must be said, were also something of a surprising team this year. They muddled to an 80-82 record last year and looked like they might be on the way to that again this year before turning it on in the second half of the season, winning their division by 11 games. Sure, it was a weak division, but one thing that made it look weak was Cleveland putting the screws to the presumptive favorite White Sox.
I think Hyde deserves to get an award like this to soak in some of the credit for the Orioles improvement. It wasn’t like he suddenly had a better roster, although the team certainly started playing better once Adley Rutschman showed up.
The grinding day-in, day-out work led to existing players doing better. Hyde kept things on an even keel when the team had a tough stretch to begin the season and he had the same steady hand when Trey Mancini and Jorge López were traded away. The Orioles faltered but didn’t fall apart in September. In sharp contrast to recent years, the O’s were not mathematically eliminated until close to the very end of the season.
Maybe next year the team can ascend to even greater heights and Hyde will once again find himself getting consideration. Perhaps the Orioles getting over the hump into the playoffs will be what gets Hyde over the hump for a manager of the year award. Until then, Buck Showalter’s 2014 win remains the most recent Orioles victory for a BBWAA award.