Why Showalter will win AL Manager of Year over Melvin


Why Showalter will win AL Manager of Year over Melvin

Bob Melvin cringes when it is suggested that he might be American League Manager of the Year. For one, he doesnt want to get ahead of his skis, and for two, he doesnt want to get ahead of the organizations skis.

And for three, its September 2 -- 31 days and 29 games before the ballots have to be in.

But theres a fourth reason why his cringing might be well-founded. Hes not the likeliest candidate.

That would be William Nathaniel Showalter, who clearly changed his popular name to Buck for good reason, and who is actually doing the same job in Baltimore, in a tougher division with dramatically worse pitching.

Melvin has been superb mixing, matching, spackling and reattaching names and faces on a day-to-day basis, turning the As into the most charming story of the baseball season. The players have earned their pie-faced due to be sure, even if none of them will end up winning any personal awards either, but well get to them in due time.

But Melvin wont win, not because he hasnt done enough to do so, but because his job turned out not to be as hard as we all thought it was.

(For the same reason, Bruce Bochy will finish behind Davey Johnson, Dusty Baker and maybe even Fredi Gonzalez in the National League, so if you want to just change names throughout the text for reasons of National League smugness, be our guest. We are, after all, interactive in every way).

None of this is Melvins fault, mind you. He has a clubhouse full of players performing well, either for him or because of him but certainly not despite him. He has done a MOTY year by any standard.

But he isnt the only one, and if you asked any manager whether he would rather try to win with a team that allows 3.7 runs per game or 4.5, hed happily take Option A.

Therein lies the difference. Melvin has a much better pitching staff than anyone thought hed have, and the fact that pitching coach Curt Young has made the young ones men well before most folks thought doesnt detract from that.

Showalter is winning with a starting rotation that is dramatically worse, a bench that hasnt been as productive, largely equivalent hitting across the boards, and in a division with two other formidable teams rather than one.

And given the superficial nature of peoples understanding of managers and how they do what they do and under what pressures, numbers are going to make the difference.

Which is why Showalter will ultimately win. Theres something about a 120-run differential discrepancy that tends to get a voters eye.

This does not diminish Melvin in any way, though. For one, he could always win a bowling trophy if he has a space on the mantle.

But more to the point, his work demonstrates that on the matter of a managers importance, Billy Beane has been too bearish an investor.

Beane struggled to see the benefits of Art Howe, struggled even more with Ken Macha, and spent more time protecting Bob Geren than getting production from him. But he gets credit for rethinking his position on the position, because Melvin was not a hire he would have considered in an earlier time in his career. Melvin was less willing to hold his tongue in meetings, and Beane was less willing to let him wag it.

In short, Melvin has been the ideal fit for this team, whether it had won 70 (as predicted by most), 80 (the best-case scenario by the most charitable), 90 (a pipe dream) or more (a Mendocino County pipe dream).

He just isnt likely to win the little trophy that tells other people what we already know. And sometimes, thats just the way the ball lies.

A's lineup: In rare move, Melvin makes no changes vs Astros

A's lineup: In rare move, Melvin makes no changes vs Astros

PROGRAMMING NOTE: A's-Astros coverage begins at 4pm with Pregame Live on NBC Sports California and streaming right here.

After winning their fourth straight game on Tuesday, the A's are trotting out the same lineup Wednesday against the Astros.

Oakland A's:
1. Matt Joyce (L) LF
2. Matt Olson (L) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) DH
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Ryon Healy (R) 3B
7. Bruce Maxwell (L) C
8. Franklin Barreto (R) SS
9. Jaycob Brugman (L) CF
Jesse Hahn -- RHP

Houston Astros:
1. George Springer (R) CF
2. Josh Reddick (L) RF
3. Jose Altuve (R) 2B
4. Carlos Correa (R) SS
5. Brian McCann (L) C
6. Carlos Beltran (S) DH
7. Marwin Gonzalez (S) 3B
8. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
9. Norichika Aoki (L) LF
David Paulino -- RHP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-extending win over Astros

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-extending win over Astros


The A’s took a noteworthy step toward changing the narrative in their recent history against the Houston Astros.

Coming through during clutch moments, both at the plate and on the mound, Oakland beat baseball’s best team 6-4 Tuesday at Minute Maid Park to run their winning streak to four.

Ryon Healy hit his first career grand slam to snap a 1-1 tie in the sixth, and starter Sean Manaea notched his first victory in seven career starts against the Astros, throwing 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

George Springer’s three-run homer off Liam Hendriks pulled Houston to within two runs in the ninth, but with two runners aboard, Santiago Casilla coaxed a 3-6-1 double play from Brian McCann to end it.

The A’s (35-42), who have stumbled so badly on the road for the majority of this season, moved to 4-0 on this six-game road trip and defeated the Astros (52-26) for just the second time in their past 17 meetings with them.

Key two-out rallies: They came in with a majors-worst .225 average with runners in scoring position, but the A’s delivered in some key at-bats and scored five of their six runs with two outs. Bruce Maxwell singled home Khris Davis in the second to get the A’s on the board. Then with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, with the score 1-1, Ryon Healy capped an eight-pitch at-bat with an opposite-field grand slam, his 18th homer of the season.

Making himself at home: Sean Manaea (7-4) flirted with danger throughout his 5 2/3 innings but wound up registering his first victory in seven career starts against Houston. He stranded two runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings, then wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with minimal damage. With no outs and the bags filled, Manaea fell behind 3-0 to Evan Gattis. Gattis chased a low pitch that would have been ball four and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. A run scored on the play but that play defused the rally and Manaea escaped with just the one run scoring that kept it a 1-1 game. The lefty gave up nine hits, but he’s now allowed just one earned run over three career starts at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park (16 IP).

Madson comes up clutch: Ryan Madson took two losses in four appearances at Minute Maid Park last season and allowed five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. But manager Bob Melvin called on him in a crucial situation Tuesday, with two runners aboard and George Springer hitting in the sixth with the A’s up 5-1. Madson got Springer swinging on a 97 mile-per-hour fastball to end the inning and keep Houston from jumping back into the game after Oakland had scored four to command the lead. Madson retired all four batters he faced with three strikeouts.

Maxwell continues his roll: The A’s catcher went 3-for-4 and is 10-for-18 since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville. He also threw out Jose Altuve trying to steal second in the first.

Casilla slams the door: After Springer’s three-run shot in the ninth, Santiago Casilla entered and allowed singles to Altuve and Carlos Correa to bring the winning run to the plate. But Casilla retired pinch hitter Josh Reddick on a foul pop out and got McCann on the game-ending double play, getting over to cover first to cap the play.