Joe Maddon honored after managing surprising Rays

Joe Maddon, who guided the Tampa Bay Rays to the American League pennant one year after having the worst record in the major leagues, was elected the AL Manager of the Year in balloting by the BBWAA. He is the first Tampa Bay manager honored with the award, which the BBWAA first presented in 1983.

Maddon, 54, was the only manager listed on all 28 ballots cast by two writers in each AL city. He was first on 27 and second on one for a total of 138 points, based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system. There has never been a unanimous winner in Manager of the Year balloting in either league.

Tampa Bay had a 66-96 record in 2007 and finished at the bottom of the AL East standings, 30 games behind the division-winning Boston Red Sox. The Rays had a 31-game turnaround in 2008 with a 97-65 record and won the AL East by a two-game margin over the Red Sox.

The Rays also beat wild-card Boston in the AL Championship Series to earn their first trip to the World Series where they lost in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies. Balloting is conducted prior to post-season play. Prior to this year, Tampa Bay had never won more than 70 games in a season. They were 70-91 in 2004 under Lou Piniella, who was also honored today as National League Manager of the Year with the Chicago Cubs.

The other first-place vote went to the Minnesota Twins’ Ron Gardenhire, who was second on 15 ballots and third on eight for 58 points. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Mike Scioscia, the winner in 2002, was in third place with 45 points. In all, six managers gained mention.

It was the fourth runner-up finish for Gardenhire, who was also second in 2003, 2004 and 2006. Four-time Manager of the Year winner Tony La Russa finished second in the voting five times, in 1989 and 1990 in the AL with the Oakland Athletics and in 2000, 2004 and 2005 in the NL with the St. Louis Cardinals. Gardenhire is tied with Art Howe, who was second in four consecutive AL elections (1999-02) with the A’s, and Davey Johnson, who ran second in the NL in 1984 and 1986 with the New York Mets and in 1994 and 1995 with the Cincinnati Reds. Johnson was the AL winner in 1997 with the Baltimore Orioles.

2008 AL Manager of the Year

Joe MaddonTampa Bay Rays271138
Ron GardenhireMinnesota Twins115858
Mike SciosciaLos Angeles Angels of Anaheim12945
Terry FranconaBoston Red Sox66
Ozzie GuillenChicago White Sox33
Cito GastonToronto Blue Jays22