The Cubs are now two for two in postseason awards. Last night Cubs Manager Joe Maddon was named 2015 National League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). Earlier in the day the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) also named Maddon the National League Manager of the Year.
Maddon is no stranger to the award. He has won Manager of the Year two other times, both with the Tampa Bay Rays of the American League. He is now one of only seven managers to win the award three times, and is only the fourth manager in Cubs history to win the Manager of the Year Award. The other three were Jim Frey in 1984, Don Zimmer in 1989 and Lou Piniella in 2008.
Maddon literally fell into the Cubs’ laps last winter, just after it had been announced that Rick Renteria would be returning as manager. Once it was learned Maddon was available Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein moved quickly to secure Maddon’s place with the Cubs, pushing Renteria out of the managerial position.
Maddon took over a team that the year before had only won only 73 games while losing 89. The turnaround was dramatic in 2015 as the Cubs ended the regular season with 97 wins plus four wins in the postseason. At his introductory press conference, Maddon talked making the playoffs in 2015. He and the team delivered, going all the way to the League Championship Series.
The remarkable turnaround from the previous year is a testament to the entire organization. The Ricketts family deserves credit for allowing Epstein the flexibility to hire Maddon and trade for new bodies on the team. Epstein and his scouts deserve credit for assembling the players. The players deserve credit for playing their very best. But Maddon deserves the credit for guiding a very young team. His managing style was sometimes unconventional, and the players responded to it. Maddon was not afraid to bench a slumping Starlin Castro, nor was he afraid to place Kris Bryant (this year’s National League Rookie of the Year) at five different positions throughout the season.
To the dismay of some of the ballhawks out on Waveland Ave. Maddon did not have his team take batting practice every day. When they won, they partied in the clubhouse. They had a pajama party on a flight home from Los Angeles. Maddon even had animals from the Columbus Zoo brought to Wrigley two consecutive days for the players and their families.
Yes, the players deserve credit, but Maddon deserves the credit for making the 2015 season a great one for the players and fans. The National League Manager of the Year Award is well deserved.