Friday, January 27 2023

When Buck Showalter put a New York Mets cap on his head for the first time in December 2021, his opening remarks voiced his intentions to put a product on the field that would make the fans proud.

After Showalter’s opening season leading the Mets, he helped morph the team’s identity from playoff outsiders to World Series contenders.

In the fifth stop in his managerial career, Showalter brought an ability to connect with his players and coaching staff, a drive to compete and a willingness to adapt to a new generation of baseball.

Showalter made quite the opening impression, helping the Mets finish 101-61 to become the first Mets manager in history to help the team eclipse the 100-win mark in his first season as manager. On Tuesday night, Showalter was named the National League’s Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

New York Mets manager Buck Showalter, second from right, celebrates with Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Brandon Nimmo after the team's game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Friday, April 8, 2022, in Washington. The Mets won 7-3.New York Mets manager Buck Showalter, second from right, celebrates with Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Brandon Nimmo after the team's game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Friday, April 8, 2022, in Washington. The Mets won 7-3.

New York Mets manager Buck Showalter, second from right, celebrates with Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Brandon Nimmo after the team’s game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Friday, April 8, 2022, in Washington. The Mets won 7-3.

He is the first Mets manager to win the award since it was first given out in 1983.

“This is a well-deserved honor,” Mets owner Steve Cohen said in a statement. “There is no doubt Buck had the players’ respect and they played hard for him. He is one of the sharpest minds in the game and he builds a winning culture.”

The Mets made a 24-win improvement under Showalter from the 2021 season when they finished 77-85, which was the second-best win increase in Major League Baseball behind the Orioles.

It is the fourth time that Showalter has been selected as the Manager of the Year across his 21 seasons. He won the award three previous times with three separate teams — Yankees (1994), Rangers (2004) and Orioles (2018) — in the American League. He joins Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa as the only managers to win four Manager of the Year awards.

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“Buck poured every ounce of himself into making the Mets better on a daily basis,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said in a statement. “I’m thrilled the voters recognized what I got to witness every day this season.”

Here is what led Showalter to the Mets’ first Manager of the Year recognition:

The challenges

When Showalter entered the clubhouse for the first time last spring, lofty expectations were there after a strong free agent haul that brought Max Scherzer, Starling Marte and Chris Bassitt, among others, on board.

But a 99-day lockout meant Showalter’s introduction to the team and acclimation period was much different with an abbreviated spring training.

Aug 22, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) is taken out in the seventh inning by manager Buck Showalter (11) against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsAug 22, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) is taken out in the seventh inning by manager Buck Showalter (11) against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 22, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) is taken out in the seventh inning by manager Buck Showalter (11) against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Then, on the eve of the season, came the news of Jacob deGrom’s extended absence following a stress reaction in his right shoulder blade. Despite long-term injuries to deGrom and Scherzer in the opening two months of the season, the Mets hit the ground running, won nine of their opening 10 series and opened up a 10.5-game lead in the NL East after the opening two months.

Whenever adversity struck throughout the season, Showalter delivered his trademark line: “No one cares about your problems. They’re glad you have them.”

Throughout the season, the Mets never lost more than three games in a row while piecing together a season-best seven-game win streak in July and August along with three other six-game win streaks. The NL East pennant chase captivated baseball fans, with the Mets and Braves each winning 101 games but the latter ultimately grabbing the crown with the tiebreaker.

Showalter is the fifth manager in MLB history to have 100-win seasons with multiple clubs.

Despite being hit a major-league record 112 times, the Mets often kept the steady discipline that was molded by Showalter.

Measuring up

Showalter received the distinction ahead of fellow National League finalists Brian Snitker of the Braves and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers.

Snitker had a high bar coming into the season after helping the Braves make a Cinderella run to the franchise’s fourth World Series title in 2021. Last season, the Braves narrowly made the playoffs with 88 wins, and this season, Snitker helped the team make a 13-win improvement and grab the National League East title for a fifth straight season.

Snitker helped several players make impressive leaps in 2022, including pitcher Kyle Wright who led the league with 21 wins, and Rookie of the Year Michael Harris and rookie Spencer Strider, who both showcased superstar potential in their first seasons.

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker argues with home plate umpire Dan Bellino (2) during the eighth inning of the team's baseball game against the New York Mets on Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Atlanta.Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker argues with home plate umpire Dan Bellino (2) during the eighth inning of the team's baseball game against the New York Mets on Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Atlanta.

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker argues with home plate umpire Dan Bellino (2) during the eighth inning of the team’s baseball game against the New York Mets on Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Atlanta.

Roberts, meanwhile, helped the Dodgers claim the best record in baseball at 111-51. Those wins matched Cleveland in 1954 for the fourth-most victories in major league history.

While leading the Dodgers, Roberts also has among the highest expectations of any manager in baseball. The Dodgers have reached the playoffs in 10 straight seasons, including nine division crowns and three trips to the World Series.

For Showalter, the Mets’ success was uncharted over the last two decades. It was the first time that the team had won 100 games since 1988 and the first time that they had reached the playoffs since 2016.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Mets’ Buck Showalter named 2022 National League Manager of the Year

Source: Yahoo Sports

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