Awards season continued on Tuesday with Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona taking Manager of the Year honors. Though each has had a considerable amount of success in the past, it marked the first time winning the award for both of them.
And both shared the common thread of coaxing major improvement from their teams to get them into the playoffs in 2013.
Hurdle became the second Pirates manager to win the award, joining Jim Leyland who won in 1990 and 1992, the latter being the last time the Pirates made the postseason prior to 2013.
As the image above notes, the Pirates have increased their win total (and win percentage) in each of Hurdle’s three seasons. That’s their longest streak since a three-year run from 1986 to 1988.
The Pirates outscored their opponents this season, 634-577. The difference in their runs scored/runs allowed is typical of an 88-win team, historically speaking (by what's known in the sabermetric world as “Pythagorean Win-Loss record”). The Pirates exceeded their Pythagorean expectation by six wins, tied with the Yankees for the second-best in the majors. Only the Phillies (who had 73 wins when their Pythagorean expectation was 66) exceeded their expectation by more wins.
The Pirates won this season on the strength of their pitching and defense. Their pitching staff ranked third in the majors in ERA and first in fewest home runs allowed, and their defense third in Defensive Runs Saved. The Pirates improved in the latter stat from -25 Defensive Runs Saved in 2012 (which rated 24th) to 77 in 2013.
Francona became the third manager to win the AL award in his first season with a team, joining Joe Torre (1996 Yankees) and Jim Leyland (2006 Tigers). He is the second Indians manager to win the award, along with Eric Wedge in 2007. Coincidentally, Francona was then the manager of the Red Sox, who beat Wedge’s Indians in the ALCS that season.
The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Francona has had a winning record in his last nine seasons as a manager. He joined Bobby Cox (15 straight) and Torre (14 straight) as the only managers with such a streak in the last 25 seasons.
The Indians' 24-win improvement from 2012 to 2013 ranked second best in the American League, trailing only the Red Sox (who improved by 28 wins). Boston's manager, John Farrell, finished second in the voting.
The Indians won with offense, scoring half a run more per game than in 2012.
They went from 13th in the American League in that stat to 4th.
Their pitching staff, which ranked last in the AL with a 4.78 ERA in 2012 dropped that by nearly a full run to 3.82 (which ranked seventh).
Did You Know?
Farrell not winning the award extended a streak of eight straight years in which the World Series-winning manager did not win his league’s manager of the year award. The last to win both in a season was Ozzie Guillen with the White Sox in 2005.