Advertisement

In which year did Orioles manager Buck Showalter do a better job: 2012 or 2014?

There was plenty of disappointment from Orioles fans on Tuesday when Buck Showalter placed second for the annual Sporting News American League Manager of the Year Award.

There was plenty of disappointment from Orioles fans on Tuesday when Buck Showalter placed second for the annual Sporting News American League Manager of the Year Award.

Showalter was edged by Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose team had the best record in the AL. Scioscia received six votes to Showalter's five.

Advertisement

The Sporting News award is selected by other managers, and 14 of the 15 AL managers participated in this year's vote. That one absentee ballot might have made a difference.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America's Manager of the Year award is widely considered the more prestigious award. It is selected by media and will be announced Nov. 11. Showalter is still considered a favorite for that.

Showalter won the Sporting News award in 2012, beating the Oakland Athletics' Bob Melvin by one vote. He was the runner-up for the BBWAA award that same year, finishing second to Melvin. Both awards are regular-season awards, so postseason success isn't considered by the voters.

Even though Showalter won the Sporting News award in 2012, a strong case could be made that he put together a better body of work this season.

Bottom line, the Orioles had their most successful season since 1997, winning 96 games on their way to an AL East title and a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Division Series.

The Orioles did so after losing catcher Matt Wieters for the season after just 26 games. Third baseman Manny Machado missed the season's first month, initially struggled at the plate when he returned and then suffered a season-ending right knee injury.

First baseman Chris Davis struggled to come close to his MVP-caliber numbers of 2013. His averaged lurked below .200 for much of the second half of the season before he was slapped with a 25-game suspension for a failed drug test that overlapped into the postseason.

Granted, as a whole, this year's team was arguably a more accomplished group than its 2012 counterpart. The starting rotation was definitely better. Four Orioles starters posted at least 10 wins for the first time since 1997.

But when he needed a closer in May, Showalter put faith in left-hander Zach Britton, who had never been a full-time reliever coming into the season. Britton converted 37 saves.

Showalter played a big part in Steve Pearce's desire to return to the club after being designated in April. Pearce had a career season.

And something that doesn't get mentioned often enough: Showalter balanced 34-year-old Nelson Cruz's playing time between left field and designated hitter in order for him to remain healthy all season. Cruz led the major leagues in home runs.

Let's not forget about 2012 so quickly. It was a historical year, as Showalter brought the Orioles out of their 14-year streak of losing seasons and took them to the playoffs with 93 wins.

Showalter was a magician with the Orioles' roster that year, making 178 roster moves among 52 different players and ensuring that his bullpen was fresh every day.

However, the argument could be made that he did a better job this year with a much less optionable roster. He did find spots to send starters like Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris to the minors briefly to get them work and accumulate roster space. This year, Showalter only used 46 players.

Advertisement

The resurgence of the franchise was gradual, and the culture shift that Showalter pushed began when he first joined the Orioles in 2010. The 2012 season will always be the year when Showalter brought winning back to Baltimore, but the end result this year was more wins and a deeper postseason run.

So what do you think? Which year did Showalter do a better job -- 2012 or 2014?

eencina@baltsun.com

twitter.com/ EddieInTheYard

Advertisement
Advertisement