The Pirates continue to maintain a strong presence in award voting this offseason, as the BBWAA has selected Clint Hurdle as National League Manager of the Year in 2013. The award is chosen by a group of 30 baseball writers (two from each NL city), who submit a ballot listing their top three choices, with points being assigned on a 5-3-1 basis. Hurdle was the runaway winner, receiving 25 of a possible 30 first-place votes, and he was listed first or second on every writer's ballot.
The Dodgers' Don Mattingly finished second with two first-place votes and a total of 68 points. The Braves' Fredi Gonzalez received one more first-place vote than Mattingly, but was mentioned on fewer total ballots, and as a result finished third with 43 total points. The Cardinals' Mike Matheny was the only other manager to be mentioned on any ballots, ending up with 19 total points.
In contrast to the players' awards, it's difficult to apply any sort of objective standard to voting for Manager of the Year. The impact of some of a manager's tactical decisions can be quantified in a limited way, but clubhouse management and media relations are also important parts of the job, and interpersonal relationships will always resist that sort of analysis. Moreover, no manager is going to do exactly what any given outside observer would want in every inning of every game over the course of the year. Fans have been making nuanced criticisms about individual decisions by excellent managers since the days when players wore 40 pounds of flannel and went to bat with table legs.
I think that Hurdle is a fine selection for the award. There may have been games where he made us crazy by leaving a starter in for an extra inning or allowing a left-handed reliever to face a right-handed batter, but in the broad view he did an excellent job this year. He held the club together through the turmoil of the fractured rotation at the beginning of the year, he successfully integrated several young players into the lineup, and most importantly he embraced the front office's increased focus on defensive shifts and positioning, which turned out to be one of the keys to this season's success. He was the right man for the job this year, and it is nice to see him receive recognition for the work that he has done.
Hurdle is the second Pirates manager to win Manager of the Year, following Jim Leyland, who won it in both 1990 and 1992. If the team continues to perform as we all hope that it does in the coming seasons, Hurdle could have a chance to match or exceed Leyland's accomplishment.