Other than an occasional Gold Glove or Silver Slugger, the White Sox usually leave award season empty handed. No MVP win since Frank Thomas in 1994. No Cy Young honors since Jack McDowell in 1993. No hilariously named Rolaids Relief titles since Bobby Thigpen's magical 1990 season. And no youngster crowned Rookie of the Year since Ozzie Guillen in 1985. There have been multiple close calls, but no hardware.
Except for Manager of the Year. In the past twenty years the White Sox have had three different skippers win that prize: Gene Lamont in 1993, Jerry Manuel in 2000, and Ozzie Guillen in 2005. Will the White Sox rookie leader Robin Ventura be the fourth in that time frame?
Something that would make a lot of sense would be to give the award to the team with the best record, which is what happened with Jerry and Ozzie. In that case, we would have to worry about Joe Girardi, Mike Scioscia, or Ron Washington winning. But the voters, much like the general populace, like a good story. The Yankees, Angels, and Rangers were all expected to make the playoffs and anything short of 98+ wins will fail to wow the judges/crowd. So it's pretty safe to cross them off the list. Bobby Valentine, John Farrell, Manny Acta, Ned Yost, and Eric Wedge also get cut because their teams are either bad or underperforming. A great manager's team would never underperform, or something like that. You can cross Jim Leyland and Joe Maddon off the list for not being interesting enough stories as well.
So who are we left with? Robin Ventura, Buck Showalter, and Bob Melvin. The White Sox, the Orioles, and the Athletics were all supposed to be in various states of rebuilding or retooling this season. It is now August 2nd and all three teams are above .500 and in contention for playoff spots. One of these three men will win the AL Manager of the Year award. And honestly, it's more of a two man race.
The Orioles renaissance has been a great story and a great reward for Baltimore and long-suffering O's fans everywhere. I'm legitimately happy for Stacey and the rest of the folks over at Camden Chat. I'm too young to hate Baltimore for 1983 and am a fan of teams that make orange work in their uniforms. But it isn't going to last. The Orioles are currently five games over .500 with 57 games left in the season. They've been outscored by 60 runs. They have the 5th worst offense in the league and the 4th worst pitching staff. Their remaining schedule is not kind.
Yeah, Oakland has the worst offense in the AL. But they also allow fewer runs per game than any team in the Junior Circuit. The A's are performing almost right at their Pythagorean W-L. Their is a considerable non-zero chance that they might snag that second Wild Card and squeeze into the playoffs, even if only for one game. And they're doing this without any stars and a $52.8MM payroll. Their top hitter is Josh Reddick. Their top pitcher? Brandon McCarthy. They're a fantastic story.
But so are the White Sox. Yes, the Sox payroll is about double that of Oakland's. But who doesn't like a good comeback story? Robin Ventura has provided a steady and reliable hand guiding the ship this season, with the players and staff admitting that the change in demeanor from the top spot having paid off dividends. The rookies seem happier and better acclimated. The veterans seem rejuvenated and less grouchy. The albatrosses decided that the arrow from the crossbow didn't hurt that bad
ly and Jake Peavy, Adam Dunn, and Alex Rios stopped hanging around the neck of the team.
Oakland has the true underdog storyline. Chicago's is one of redemption. It's all going to come down to which story ends better.