MLB: Terry Francona and Dave Roberts Win Manager of the Year Awards

Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Dave Roberts have been named the top MLB managers of the 2016 season.

Terry Francona has long been one of the most respected managers in baseball for his work with the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians. After winning the AL Manager of the Year award in 2013 for turning a lowly Indians squad into a 92-game winner, Francona has kept Cleveland in contention during his four-year tenure with the team.

This season, Francona led the Indians to a 94-67 record and ultimately to the World Series, where they fell in seven games to the powerhouse Chicago Cubs. As such, he was rewarded with his second manager of the year award – an impressive feat to accomplish in just four seasons with a team. Francona is the sixth active manager to win the award twice, joining Joe Maddon, Dusty Baker, Bob Melvin, Buck Showalter and Mike Scioscia.

Whereas Francona has been an established managerial force, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was a rookie heading into the season after taking the reins from Don Mattingly. At just 44, Roberts isn’t much older than his players – and that worked in his favor during his first season with the Dodgers.

Roberts led Los Angeles to a 91-71 record, one game worse than their 2015 finish of 92-70, but the team was noticeably more consistent on the field. That, coupled with the fact that ace Clayton Kershaw missed a significant amount of time and the team lost Zack Greinke last offseason, led to Roberts winning the NL Manager of the Year award.

Rather shockingly, the Dodgers opened the season with 10 players in the disabled list and had a total of 28 players miss time at some point in the season.  The Indians had a similar scenario, although to a lesser extent. Outfielder Michael Brantley, widely known as the Indians’ best hitter, missed nearly the entire season and the playoffs, while catcher Yan Gomes and starters Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco also missed time.

Roberts said the support of the Los Angeles front office allowed him to keep his composure, and taking the season one day at a time allowed the team to thrive.

“I think the focus on the day-to-day, and not getting even ahead to tomorrow or the next day, made it a lot easier,” Roberts said via ESPN. “And I think that at any point of the season, [if] I would have stepped back and looked at the expectation or the injuries, it would have felt daunting, but it never really felt that way, even in late June when we were eight games back.”

The Dodgers were eight games down in the NL West in late June, but ultimately capitalized on the San Francisco Giants’ collapse and gained momentum down the stretch. The Indians, on the other hand, looked to be underdogs against the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals, but made significant strides in the middle of the season as the Royals struggled.

Francona was the frontrunner for the award since the season began to wind down, as John Farrell of the Boston Red Sox failed to push the team deep in the playoffs and Jeff Banister of the Texas Rangers lost in the ALDS to the Toronto Blue Jays. Roberts beat out worthy candidates in Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs and Dusty Baker of the Washington Nationals.

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