John Farrell and Clint Hurdle are favorites to win Manager of the Year Awards Tuesday.
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
What a difference a year makes.
The Boston Red Sox couldn't get out of their own way in 2012 and stumbled to a 93-loss season and a last-place finish in the American League East. This year, though, they not only won a division title but capped the year with the franchise's eighth World Series title.
Now, the man who orchestrated the worst-to-first turnaround may get his due on Tuesday when the Baseball Writers' Association of America name both the American and National League managers of the year.
Only two teams were worse than Boston in the AL in 2012, leading to the dismissal of manager Bobby Valentine after just one season. So, out with the old and in the new, as the team hired John Farrell away from Toronto to be their new skipper.
All Farrell did was put himself atop most people's AL Manager of the Year ballots, as he guided the Red Sox to a 28-game turnaround and ended the regular season 97-65, while leading the club to its first AL East title since their World Series championship season of 2007.
The 97 wins were also the second-most for the team since 1978.
Farrell, of course, was the Red Sox pitching coach under Terry Francona, and his impact was immediately evident, especially among the starting staff which saw their ERA decrease by nearly two runs from the prior season
Farrell's main competition figures to come from Francona and Oakland's Bob Melvin, who won this award last year.
In his first year with the Cleveland Indians, Francona guided the team back to the postseason for the first time since 2007, as the Tribe won 92 games one year removed from a miserable 94-loss campaign.
Cleveland's season was even more remarkable when you realize it had five losing streaks of at least five games, went 4-15 against AL Central champion Detroit and ended the year without a player hitting 25 home runs or knocking in 90 runs or a 15-game winner on the mound.
Melvin, meanwhile, is vying for his third Manager of the Year trophy after leading the A's to their second straight AL West crown, despite a low budget and a roster chock full of rookies and castoffs.
Still, Oakland won one fewer game than the Red Sox and finished 5 1/2 games ahead of its nearest competitor in the division.
Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle appears to have the inside track on the NL award after helping the Pirates put an end to one of the worst droughts in sports history, as he led them back to the postseason for the first time since 1992.
To further put that into perspective, the last time Pittsburgh got to see playoff baseball, Barry Bonds was patrolling center field at Three Rivers Stadium.
In his third season with the Pirates, Hurdle led them to a 94-68 record, a wild-card playoff game win and a loss in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. After consecutive falls from contention in the second half of both the 2011 and '12 seasons, the Pirates went 38-31 in the second half this season.
Atlanta's Fredi Gonzalez and Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers are the other NL finalists.
Atlanta stormed out of the gates, winning 13 of its first 15 games, and never looked back. The Braves led the NL East by at least eight games throughout the season's final two months and their 96 wins were the most since 2004.
Mattingly was considered to nearly fired in late May, but the Dodgers turned things around thanks to an amazing 50-game stretch that saw them go 42-8, as they overcame a 9 1/2-game deficit on June 22 to win the NL West by 11 games.
At one point, the club won 15 consecutive road games -- the first NL team to do that since 1957 -- and it went unbeaten in 18 consecutive series. Los Angeles went from 12 games below .500 to finish 22 games above.