St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt has won the NL’s manager of the year award and in doing so has set a new record. What was so special about this win?
For just the third time in St. Louis Cardinals history, they have a Manager of the Year award winner. Mike Shildt beat out Brewers manager Craig Counsell and the Braves’ Brian Snitker. Fans of the Brewers might be angry as Counsell did actually receive more first-place votes than Shildt, but by overall points, Shildt won 95 to 88.
This win was 100% deserved for Shildt though as he facilitated a huge leap in consistency and performance for the 2019 Cardinals. Going into his first full year as manager, Shildt committed to defensive consistency and fundamentals which were stables of the Cardinals teams early in the decade.
The result of Shildt’s focus was the Cardinals not only leading the league in fewest errors and being the third-best defense in baseball. They also led in base stealing efficiency and the focus on fundamentals culminated in a trip to the NLCS after three straight years of missing the playoffs.
Shildt may have played favorites or started the wrong players at times, but for his entire body of work, he was the most deserving candidate for this award.
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As I mentioned before, Shildt becomes just the third Cardinals manager to win the award after Tony La Russa won in 2002 and Whitey Herzog won in 1985. This award is also noteworthy because Mike Shildt is the first manager in the history of the league to win the award without having any experience playing at any level of professional baseball.
This used to be a dig against Shildt but looking at how far he has come, the effort and work he put in to grow his managerial style and ability working his way up through the minors is a testament to what he has accomplished.
This award tragically comes just after Mike Shildt’s Mother died last Wednesday. The relationship between the two has been chronicled very well since Shildt was promoted to manager and she was surely in Shildt’s mind when the award was announced.
Ideally, this won’t be the last Manager of the Year award that he earns in his managerial career. Either way, this award is much deserved and the shift in leadership styles from Mike Matheny to Mike Shildt has done wonders for this team.