For the second time in three seasons, the American League manager of the year coaches the Minnesota Twins. The MLB announced the first-year manager took home the honors this afternoon, and here at Twinkie Town, we would like to congratulate Baldelli for putting a capstone on an already impressive season.
Coming off an campaign in which the Twins won 78 games and Paul Molitor lost his job, the expectations for Baldelli were fairly low this season—most people would have considered any record over .500 a success. Baldelli and his team vastly exceeded those expectations by winning 101 games and the AL Central.
Baldelli was a huge part of the turn-around for the team, being credited with a total culture change that allowed players to stay loose and be themselves. He also embraces advanced statistics and scouting technologies in a way that the Twins have never done. Those two changes are the most credited reasons for the team’s bomba-hitting, winning ways.
The other two finalists were Kevin Cash of the Rays, and Aaron Boone of the Yankees. It’s nice to win something when facing the Yankees. While this is a win for Twins fans, fans around the league were supportive and congratulatory towards the Twins’ skipper.
Adam Dubbin, a staff member at Bless You Boys said “I’m stoked for Baldelli. His medical condition derailed what would have been a promising career, and I’m glad he can still find a way to succeed in the game.” DRaysBay editor Ian Malinowski said “My argument for Cash had a lot to do with how he limited pitcher exposure, and Baldelli, for obvious reasons, did a similar thing. It kind of gets obscured if you’re just looking at ERA or FIP because the talent level of the Twins pitchers wasn’t as high as that of the Rays pitchers, and the Twins park is less pitcher friendly, but Baldelli used a similar approach of limiting his starters against the order in the third time through. Pitcher decisions is one of the only levers a manager really has, and I think Baldelli used his to get the most out of his staff.” Another editor at DRaysBay, Mister Lizzie, provided my favorite reaction “As a Rays fan I feel like any non-Boone choice was a win.”
Baldelli is the fourth consecutive Twins’ manager to win Manager of the Year at some point with the team, joining Paul Molitor (2017,) Ron Gardenhire (2010,) and Tom Kelly (1991.) Once again, congrats Rocco!