Between Executive of the Year Billy Beane and Manager of the Year Bob Melvin, the 2012 Oakland Athletics have a nice haul in the trophy case for a team that most experts predicted would lose 100 games this season.
Melvin was named American League Manager of the Year yesterday, after guiding the A’s to their 15th division title in 2012, posting a 20-win improvement from the previous season.
It was a close vote, as the Oakland skipper narrowly edged Baltimore Oriole manager Buck Showalter out for the accolade.
“Absolutely shocked,” Melvin told the MLB Network yesterday after the announcement was made. “I mean, Buck had such a great year.”
Due the age-old perceptions of an “East Coast media bias”, it may have even been expected that Showalter would win: his Orioles improved by more games than the A’s did, and Baltimore broke a 15-year postseason drought as well.
But really, either man would have made for a standout winner in the vote, and the fact Melvin came out on top doesn’t diminish anything Showalter and the Orioles did in winning 93 games and pushing the heavily-favored New York Yankees to the limit in both the regular season and the playoffs.
It goes to show how these award contests are so difficult to assess sometimes, obviously, but luckily for Oakland, Melvin becomes the second winner in the franchise’s California history — Tony LaRussa won the award in both 1988 and 1992 for leading the A’s to the postseason after not making it the prior years.
And Melvin joins an elite group of managers who have won the awards in both leagues as well: with his 2007 NL effort with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the A’s manager joins LaRussa, Bobby Cox, Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella and current Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson — who won the NL award yesterday, coupled with his 1997 AL award for that season with the Orioles — in a select group.
And the other five? Have all won World Series as well, so perhaps that is in the future for Melvin — maybe even with these Oakland A’s.
As the organizational press release on the announcement noted, Beane was selected by his peers as the Sporting News Major League Baseball Executive of the Year last week. Thus, 2012 marks the first time the A’s have captured both the Sporting News Executive of the Year and Baseball Writer’s Association of America’s AL Manager of the Year in the same season.
Melvin, a native of Palo Alto who attended both the University of California in Berkeley and Menlo-Atherton High School, was originally named the A’s interim manager on June 9, 2011.
He signed a three-year contract through the 2014 season on September 21, 2011.