Tampa Bay Rays' Joe Maddon named AL Manager of the Year

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November

Maddon Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon's whirlwind week just got much better.

Maddon, who got married Saturday, was named American League Manager of the Year on Wednesday, awarded by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Maddon received 27 first-place votes out of 28 ballots, giving him 138 points. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire got the other first-place vote and finished second (58 points), and Angels manager Mike Scioscia took third (45 points).

"It's truly an honor," Maddon said on a conference call from his honeymoon in Rome. "To me it means that we did a pretty good job obviously, that things are definitely moving in the right direction. Getting to the playoffs, getting to the World Series - my goodness, nobody thought (the) World Series. To accomplish what we did, for me, personally - (the award) caps it all off."

Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer was the writer who gave Gardenhire the first-place vote, keeping Maddon from being the first unanimous Manager of the Year selection in history.

With Maddon's honor, the first such honor in the Rays 11-year history, comes just two days after third baseman Evan Longoria was unanimously selected as the AL Rookie of the Year, giving Tampa Bay two of baseball's four major postseason awards.

Maddon's case was pretty much a slam dunk. In his third season with the Rays, he led them to a 31-win improvement over the previous season as Tampa Bay went 97-65 and won arguably the toughest division (AL East) in baseball before clinching its first pennant and World Series berth. It was the third-best improvement in AL history as the Rays became the first AL team to go from the worst record in the major leagues to the postseason.

Maddon seemed to make all the right moves, starting from introducing the team to the inspiring phrase "9 equals 8" in spring training (nine players working hard for nine innings equals becoming one of the eight teams in the postseason). Maddon's bold decisions paid off, from walking Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton with the bases loaded, to pulling CF B.J. Upton from a game for not hustling, to donning a Mohawk hairstyle for team unity.

"He's someone who isn't afraid to exercise his mind, and he's open to new ideas," Rays president Matt Silverman said. "And that openness is one of the traits we noticed during the interview process. We can't do things conventionally and succeed -- we're a low-revenue club, we’re going up against hundreds of millions of dollars of payroll in the AL East. So that openness is key to our ability to succeed and overcome some of the odds against us."

Maddon had already been awarded manager of the year honors by The Sporting News, baseballprospectus.com, as well as the Chuck Tanner Manager of the Year Award.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella, an ex-Rays skipper, won the NL Manager of the Year Award, chosen over the Phillies' Charlie Manuel and Marlins' Fredi Gonzalez.

Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer

joesmith@sptimes.com

(Times photo -- Brian Cassella. Click to enlarge.)

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:43am]

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