16 Nov

select company

It’s a very exclusive club that Buck Showalter joined on Tuesday when the former Mississippi State standout claimed the National League Manager of the Year Award. He is one of just three managers to win the top manager award four times — and the first to do it with four different teams. “Very humbling, very honored,” he told mlb.com. Of course, four-time winners Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa have something that Showalter still lacks: a World Series ring. In his first season with the New York Mets, Showalter guided his club to 101 wins, a 24-win improvement over the previous season. However, they squandered a big division lead to Atlanta, lost a late showdown for first place in the National League East and made the postseason as a wild card, where they lost to San Diego. Showalter’s postseason record is 10-16 over six appearances. The BBWAA voting, which doesn’t take into account the postseason, was close in the NL race. Showalter got eight first-place votes, same as Los Angeles’ Dave Roberts and just one more than Atlanta’s Brian Snitker. Showalter’s total points were 77 to Roberts’ 57 and Snitker’s 55. Showalter became the first Mets manager to win the award; somehow, Davey Johnson, the ex-Jackson Mets skipper, did not prevail in 1986 despite winning 108 games with the team that went on to win the World Series. (Houston’s Hal Lanier won the ’86 award.) Showalter will be back with the Mets in 2023 for his 22nd season as an MLB manager.

12 Nov

the power to shine

Among the words of wisdom attributed to Buck Showalter is this tidy catchphrase: “You have to be brilliant at the basics.” As it applies to baseball, that’s an absolute. And most of Showalter’s teams have been brilliant at the basics, including his 2014 Baltimore club, which won the American League East in a runaway and earned the former Mississippi State star his third manager of the year award. Showalter never played in the major leagues, but he was a better player than some might realize. At State in 1977, he set a single-season batting average record when he hit .459. The New York Yankees thought enough of Showalter’s skills to draft him in the fifth round. He hit .294 as a minor leaguer, but the Yankees had other plans for him. He became a minor league manager in their system in 1985 and by 1990 was on the big-league coaching staff. He took the reins as manager in 1992. Over 16 seasons, his MLB managerial record is 1,259-1,161, a solid .520 winning percentage, and he has now won three manager of the year awards (in 10-year increments, oddly enough). He hasn’t had much postseason success: 9-13 overall in four appearances. Showalter, 58, might need a World Series crown to garner Hall of Fame consideration, and the Orioles might have the talent to deliver one in the next couple of years. If that does happen, brilliance at the basics will be the underlying reason.