SAN DIEGO—The Padres won 90 games for just the fourth time in franchise history, first time since 1998, and those in the organization believe there's one man who put it all together.
The winning season certainly wasn't due to the hitting (.246 average), yet the pitching was fantastic (3.39 ERA, 2nd in the National League). According to the Padres organization perhaps the major reason for success was manager Bud Black.
It's no surprise that his boss and players feel he should be National League Manager of the Year.
"This is certainly the group in baseball that exceeded expectations the most and I think that has a lot to do with the manager," said Padres General Manager Jed Hoyer.
With the second lowest payroll in Major League baseball, just two all-stars (Heath Bell and Adrian Gonzalez), and an offense that ranked second-to-last in the National League in batting average, Black managed the Padres to the biggest turnaround in Major League baseball - increasing the win total from 75 last season to 90 in 2010.
"He's a great communicator," said outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. "He's a great teacher and knows a lot about the game of baseball. That's when his work was at his best, when he had to do the teaching. Teaching us how to play, teaching us how to go about our business mentally and physically."
Black made all the right moves for five months, keeping the Padres on top of the NL West division from late-April to late-September.
"I think he's as deserving as anyone if not more so," said pitcher Chris Young. "Given the expectations of this team, from the outside, of what this team would do, I think Bud deserves a lot of credit and a lot of consideration for that award."
There are two things working against Black: First, his team had a 6 1/2-game lead on August 25th and not only missed out on a division title, to the San Francisco Giants, but missed out on the playoffs altogether.
Second, Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker led the Reds to the NL Central title and, their first playoff berth in 15 years.
Still, Black's boss believes that the Padres did much more with much less.
"I think that award's been sewn up for awhile," Hoyer said. "What he did with this group is remarkable. I'm certainly hopeful that if the voters think about the entirety of the season, taking this group to 90 wins, falling just short on the last day. I'm certainly hopeful they'll look at that because to me there's no question he's manager of the year."