Braves manager Brian Snitker and Athletics skipper Bob Melvin were named Manager of the Year in their respective leagues, the Baseball Writers Association Of America announced Tuesday. As a reminder, votes were submitted prior to the beginning of postseason play.
Snitker received 17 first-place votes and edged out Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell 116 to 99 on the weighted ballot system. Colorado’s Bud Black, St. Louis’ Mike Shildt and Chicago’s Joe Maddon rounded out the NL ballot, in that order (full voting breakdown here). In the American League, Melvin topped Boston’s Alex Cora by a score of 121 to 79. Tampa’s Kevin Cash, Houston’s A.J. Hinch and New York’s Aaron Boone rounded out the ballot, in that order (full breakdown).
Snitker, 63, has spent more than two decades in the Braves organization, including three separate stints on the team’s big league coaching staff and 15 seasons as a skipper in the team’s minor league ranks. The Braves lifer was named interim manager upon the dismissal of Fredi Gonzalez in May 2016, and while that move wasn’t expected to become permanent at the time, Snitker has impressed a pair of different front office regimes while deftly managing an increasingly youthful roster that now looks poised for perennial contention in the National League East.
Much has been made of the Braves’ rebuild over the past several seasons, as Atlanta has dealt away stars like Craig Kimbrel, Andrelton Simmons and Justin Upton, among others, while stockpiling minor league talent with an eye towards a sustainable run of contending rosters. The front office no longer resembles the group that began the rebuild, following the stunning resignation of GM John Coppolella in the wake of infractions on the international free-agent market and the quieter departure of former president John Hart; the constant throughout that turmoil was that Snitker was the voice of leadership in the dugout.
Expectations for the Braves headed into the 2018 campaign weren’t exactly high, but the emergence of Ronald Acuna, a huge first half from Ozzie Albies, resurgent efforts from Nick Markakis and Anibal Sanchez, and the ultra-consistent Freddie Freeman — all under the tutelage of Snitker and a veteran coaching staff — helped to fuel a 90-72 club that surprisingly took home the NL East division crown.
As for Melvin, this is his third Manager of the Year Award, having previously taken home the honor with the 2012 A’s and the 2007 Diamondbacks. As was the case with the Braves, Oakland entered the season as a perceived long shot to make the postseason. Doubts about their ability to do so undoubtedly continued into the summer, as Oakland sat at 34-36 and faced an 11.5 game deficit in the American League West on June 15.
What followed was one of the most impressive streaks in recent history, as the A’s closed out the season with a ridiculous 63-29 pace, leaving the division-rival Mariners and Cash’s Rays in the dust as they marched to a 97-65 finish and an improbable American League Wild Card berth. That the Athletics were able to do so despite a catastrophic level of injury in the starting rotation made the feat all the more incredible. Through it all, Melvin kept his club in good spirits and managed a patchwork rotation comprised primarily of 2017-18 non-tenders and minor league signees. Melvin & Co. leaned on Trevor Cahill, Edwin Jackson, Brett Anderson and Mike Fiers in the rotation down the stretch, while emerging stars like Matt Chapman and Matt Olson anchored a lineup that became one of the league’s best.
Beyond Manager of the Year honors, Snitker and Melvin were each rewarded with new contracts following their strong seasons. Atlanta signed Snitker to a two-year extension with an option for the 2021 season, while Melvin’s contract is now guaranteed through 2021.