Brian Snitker Named 2018 National League Manager Of The Year
Yes, the 2018 season is over.
But for the second time in as many November days, the Braves picked up a W.
Atlanta’s Brian Snitker was named the 2018 NL Manager of the Year on Tuesday afternoon, receiving 17 of 30 first-place votes by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Craig Counsell (Brewers) finished second and Bud Black (Rockies) rounded out the three finalists in third place.
Those who frequently read Baseball America know the "Baby Braves,” led by a nucleus that includes NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr., grew up fast this year -- likely even a year ahead of schedule. Snitker oversaw their growth, emboldening young stars, youthful pitching and successfully guiding an inexperienced bullpen to 90 wins and an NL East title in 2018.
Snitker, 63, moved Acuna to the top of Atlanta’s order in July and, in turn, the Braves outfielder turned in one of the best second halves of any player in baseball. Atlanta’s lineup gelled around veterans Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis, and its starters posted a 3.50 ERA -- the second-best mark in the NL.
The Braves also started three Gold Glovers: Freeman (1B), Ender Inciarte (CF) and Markakis (RF).
Despite relatively low expectations entering the season, Atlanta jockeyed for position at the top of the NL East throughout the season, then won seven of eight games in September to clinch a division crown as the Phillies faltered and the Nationals never mounted a serious charge.
Counsell, 48, guided Milwaukee through a second-half surge. The Brewers won 96 games, including their final eight of the season, and chased down the Cubs in the NL Central, winning the division in a tiebreaker game at Wrigley Field.
While voting only takes the regular season into consideration, Counsell’s bullpen maestro act throughout the postseason helped the Brewers come within one game of a World Series appearance.
Similar to the A’s and Rays in the AL, Counsell frequently asked his best relief pitchers to secure the majority of Milwaukee’s outs down the stretch, relentlessly deploying Josh Hader for multi-inning appearances and even using starter Wade Miley for just one batter in Game 5 of the NLCS, then starting him again in Game 6.
Counsell was voted as the NL’s best manager by other personnel within the game in Baseball America’s annual "Best Tools” series.
Black, 61, was vying for his second NL Manager of the Year award. He also won in 2010 with San Diego.
He’s the first Colorado manager to ever oversee consecutive playoff appearances. Black brought together a lineup that features perennial MVP candidate Nolan Arenado and a homegrown starting rotation that finished fourth in the NL in fWAR (15 wins).
Colorado was four games under .500 and eight games out of first place in the NL West in late June. A stellar July vaulted the Rockies back into contention and they nearly outpaced the Dodgers in September before both teams met in the NL West tiebreaker, which the Dodgers won 5-2.