Terry Francona edges out John Farrell as American League Manager of the Year

November 12, 2013 - 2:02 pm
Red Sox manager John Farrell came in second in American League Manager of the Year balloting, finishing just behind the man responsible for his introduction to Boston in voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who led the Indians to a surprising 92-70 mark, edged Farrell, claiming 16 first-place votes compared to Farrell's 12, resulting in 112 points for Francona compared to 96 for Farrell. Bob Melvin of the Athletics finished in third with two first-place votes and 36 points. Voting on the award took place at the end of the regular season, before Farrell steered the Sox to a World Series in his first year as their skipper. He led the Red Sox to a 97-65 regular season record -- tied for the best mark in the majors, and the top record in the American League, thus giving the Sox home field advantage throughout the postseason. The Red Sox acquired Farrell in a trade with the Blue Jays after the 2012 season, parting with shortstop Mike Aviles in order to bring a familiar presence back to Boston. Though Farrell had gone 154-170 in two years with Toronto, finishing in fourth place in back-to-back seasons, his presence immediately had a calming effect on a Red Sox organization that had seemed fractured at times in 2012. His familiarity with members of the front office (including GM Ben Cherington) and the team owners as a result of his four years as the team's pitching coach allowed for an immediate sense of comfort and vision for the organization, resulting in an efficient process in assembling a coaching staff as well as a consistent, well-defined process in rounding out the roster via free agency. "I think ultimately we recognize that we're betting on people rather than just a skill set, and that's where a lot of agreement was had about the selections that went on last winter,'€ Farrell said late in the season of his kinship with Cherington. '€œThere is a lot of continuity and a lot of similarity. That alignment allows us to face a lot of the challenges we have with the same interest, the same goal. We have a similar view of how we're going to get to the end result.'€ The end result, of course, was a startling one-year turnaround, the first worst-to-first about-face in franchise history. Farrell was credited time after time as a key contributor to the team's run, and for the creation of a clubhouse atmosphere that positioned the Sox to be exceptional in their preparation for games and aggressiveness in them, restoring the focus to funnel towards the first pitch on a nightly basis, in a considerable departure from some of the melodrama that accompanied the hours before games in 2012. "Our manager, he's the reason why we are where we are," Red Sox DH David Ortiz said when the team clinched the AL East title, a notion he would repeat as the team advanced throughout October. Just two Sox managers have won the Manager of the Year award since the Baseball Writers Association of America became responsible for voting on the award's winner in each league in 1983. Previously, John McNamara (1986) and Jimy Williams (1999) were recognized as the best managers in the American League. Francona, surprisingly, never received even a single first-place vote in Manager of the Year balloting in his eight years as Red Sox manager, a span that included five postseason berths and two titles. On that count, at least, Farrell can claim to have bested him in his first year in Boston.