Cardinals’ Mike Matheny in loaded field of top NL managers
Despite having the St. Louis Cardinals on pace for well over 100 wins, manager Mike Matheny may lose out on taking home Manager of the Year honors.
Usually, when you lead an injury-depleted team to a division crown and over 100 wins, you’re first in line for Manager of the Year honors in your respective league.
This season, however, could prove to be the exception for Matheny, who has finished in the top five in NL voting twice in his still-young managerial career.
St. Louis enters play Thursday with at 73-40, a whopping 33 games over the break-even mark, leaving both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs, both of whom have records that rank among the best in baseball, almost 10 games back in the National League Central.
While that in and of itself is impressive enough for Matheny to warrant consideration for Manager of the Year, the fact that he’s done so without the likes of Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, Matt Adams and other key pieces only magnifies the success the Cardinals have enjoyed in 2015.
That being said, Matheny, by most measures, isn’t the frontrunner for the honor. In fact, the two top likeliest candidates find themselves at the helm of young teams battling for their first postseason berths in years.
Joe Maddon, who jumped from the Tampa Bay Rays after Andrew Friedman headed west to take over the Dodgers’ baseball operations, has the Cubs playing top-notch baseball in the second-half, winners of 17 of 25, including six-straight for the second time this year.
He’s done so with one of the youngest rosters in baseball, and the mere storyline of Chicago being relevant again this late in the year is guaranteed to drum up deep support for the fun-loving skipper.
With Jake Arrieta making a run at the National League Cy Young award and Anthony Rizzo playing MVP-caliber baseball, Maddon has Chicago fans thinking October is more than a hope this season.
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Another top contender is Terry Collins of the New York Mets, who less than a year ago was considered to be on the hot seat by more than a handful of people. This season, he’s got the Mets in first in the National League East, 3 1/2 games ahead of the Washington Nationals for the division lead.
He’s accomplished this thanks to the exploits of Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom – who, together, form one of the best young starting rotations we’ve seen in baseball in a long, long time.
The deadline acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes breathed life into the team’s offense, giving New York the spark it needed to catapult Washington – leaving many in awe, given the Nats were heavy preseason favorites to make a deep postseason run.
What it comes down to is simple: both the Mets and Cubs make better stories than Matheny’s Cardinals. St. Louis winning a division title is old news; they do this every season without fail.
And because they’re so good, no one will bat an eye at Mike Matheny being looked over for Manager of the Year.
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