Mike Matheny became the first Cardinals manager to lead St. Louis to the postseason in each of his first three full seasons with the club.
He’s also only the fifth big-league manager all‐time to have achieved that feat, joining Ron Gardenhire (2002-04 Twins), Larry Dierker (1997-99 Astros), Ralph Houk (1961-63 Yankees) and Hughie Jennings (1907-09 Tigers), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Matheny receives my top vote for the Connie Mack Award presented by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance to the most deserving manager in the National League.
Bloggers representing each National League franchise will vote for the Connie Mack Award. My vote is one of two representing the United Cardinal Bloggers.
Voters are required to list three managers on the Connie Mack Award ballot. Here, in order, starting with the top pick, are the managers who received my votes:
He led the Cardinals to their second consecutive National League Central Division championship. Under Matheny, the 2013-14 Cardinals became the first St. Louis teams to achieve consecutive seasons of 90 wins or more since the 2004-05 clubs.
His leadership skills and ability to overcome obstacles are exemplary.
Matheny excelled even though:
_ Yadier Molina, the catcher and heart and soul of the team, was limited to 110 games because of injury.
_ Allen Craig, considered a vital part of the offense, hit just .237 with a pitiful .291 on-base percentage before being banished to Boston.
_ Peter Bourjos, acquired from the Angels for David Freese, was a bust as the everyday center field candidate, hitting .231 with an on-base percentage of .294.
_ Two starters in the rotation, Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha, got injured and missed big portions of the season. Garcia was limited to seven starts and Wacha made 19 starts.
_ Randy Choate, the 39-year-old left-handed relief specialist, posted an unacceptable 4.50 ERA.
_ Kevin Siegrist, projected as the top left-handed reliever, was an abysmal 1-4 with a 6.82 ERA.
_ The Cardinals ranked last in the National League in home runs at 105.
_ The Cardinals ranked next-to-last in the National League in steals at 57.
_ The Cardinals ranked ninth among 15 National League clubs in runs at 619.
Wrote Richard Justice of MLB.com: “Mike Matheny has kept things rolling because he’s great with the players and he’s poised.”
The Giants manager led San Francisco to its third postseason appearance in five years even though ace Matt Cain was limited to 15 starts because of injuries, no player achieved 90 RBI and the club ranked last in the National League in steals.
The Pirates manager got Pittsburgh into the postseason for the second consecutive year and masterfully utilized utility player Josh Harrison (.315 batting mark, 164 hits in 143 games) to plug a myriad of holes by rotating him at third base, right field, left field, second base and shortstop.