Programming note: The Final Cut: 2012 Oakland A's, the story of Oaklands incredible 2012 season, debuts Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California!
OAKLAND -- Bob Melvin was named the 2012 American League Manager of the Year Tuesday after leading the Oakland Athletics to a 94-68 record. The A's overcame a 13-game deficit to win the AL West on the final day of the season and reached the postseason for the first time since 2006.
Melvin beat out Buck Showalter for the honor. Both Melvin and Showalter appeared, in some order, in the first two slots on all of the 28 ballots.
Melvin took home 16 first-place votes and 12 second-place votes for 116 overall points. Showalter was close behind with 108 points -- 12 first-place votes and 16 second-place votes.
On June 9, 2011, the A's named Melvin their interim manager. Since that day Oakland has gone 141-120. Under Melvin's guidance the culture of the A's has changed.After shipping off All-Stars Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Andrew Bailey prior to the 2011 season, no one outside of the A's organization expected the team to succeed in 2012. Yet, they finished 20 games better than they did in 2011.Is it any surprise that Melvin is the American League Manager of the Year? It shouldn't be. He is just the second A's manager to win the award that was first given out in 1983 -- Tony La Russa took home the honor for the A's in 1988 and 1992. Melvin was voted the National League Manager of the Year with the Diamondbacks in 2007, and is the 13th skipper to win the award more than once, and just the fifth to win the award in each league.With Melvin at the helm, the A's overcame the seemingly insurmountable. They won the AL West after trailing by 13 games. They overcame the loss of their three best starting pitchers during the stretch run to become the first team in MLB history to win a division while trailing by five games with nine to play. They had a catcher playing third base, a shortstop playing second base, a center fielder playing left field and an outfielder playing first base.Somehow, Melvin made it all work. At times the A's roster looked like an insolvable brainteaser, but the A's manager had more answers than The Riddler. "To do what he did with a ballclub that wasn't supposed to do anything is something special," A's outfielder Josh Reddick said.
The A's offense thrived though the use of platoons at first base, second base, shortstop, DH, and catcher. They were able to do so because of Melvin's communication skills. Every player knew when he was going to be in the lineup, out of the lineup, and the reason why. After every game Melvin had his coaching staff let each player know what their role for the next day would be. He used every last player on the roster to win. He simply managed the A's to success. Melvin was communicative, had his lineups posted early every day, openly answered any and all questions asked by the media, and even donated his office microwave to the beat writers so we could heat up our food in the press box.He went above and beyond in every way imaginable.Melvin won the award over Orioles' manager Buck Showalter, who snapped a skid of 14 consecutive losing seasons in Baltimore with a 93-win season. Showalter's Orioles were one of the biggest surprises in baseball, but the A's story was more shocking. The Orioles entered 2012 with a far more talented roster than the A's that included All-Stars Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, and Jim Johnson. The A's used 19 rookies, 12 of them were pitchers.REWIND: Melvin among three finalists
"Obviously I am biased, but all do respect, I think Buck Showalter has done a phenomenal job, I can't imagine anyone other than Bob Melvin being manager of the year," general manager Billy Beane said at the conclusion of the season. "That statement from me says it all."Beane's vote of confidence in Melvin is huge. Traditionally the A's GM has employed more passive managers. His hiring of Melvin was a departure from that strategy and it worked.It's not just the front office singing Melvin's praises. During the A's champagne celebration after winning the AL West, third baseman Josh Donaldson pulled me aside, made sure my recorder was ready and went on an impassioned rant about why Melvin deserved to be manager of the year. Melvin made that strong of an impression on the team. Every player on the A's would run through a brick wall for Melvin."If Bob Melvin doesn't win manager of the year, then baseball is ridiculous," Donaldson said after the 162nd game. "I know we don't get publicity from the East Coast, but people have to realize the job that Bob Melvin has done and what has happened in Oakland. You've got to give the man his respect."Melvin got his respect. Not that he was seeking it. The humble manager usually likes to deflect attention and he is the first to credit his players, coaches and front office for the team's success. After a remarkable 2012 season across the board in Oakland, the future appears to be brighter than ever for Melvin and the A's.