Athlon Sports' 2011 AL & NL Managers of the Year

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Athlon editors name their choices for this season's best manager in each league

<p> Athlon editors name their choices for this season's best manager in each league</p>

With the World Series in the rear-view mirror and the hot stove just beginning to heat up, it's time to hand out some awards to this year's best performers on the diamond. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) has already named their AL and NL Rookies of the Year and as well as the American League Cy Young award. And while no Athlon editors are members of the BBWAA, here's how four of us — Charlie Miller, Braden Gall, Patrick Snow and Mark Ross — would have voted if we did have a ballot to cast.

AL & NL Managers of the Year

In most years, the candidates for Manager of the Year are those whose teams perform better than expected or performed poorly the previous season and turned things around this season. This formula, if you will, holds true for this season.

In the AL, Joe Maddon pretty much wrapped up his second Manager of the Year honor by leading his Tampa Bay Rays on a late-season push that had them overcome the Boston Red Sox and capture the AL Wild Card on the final day of the season. Other AL candidates include Jim Leyland, who led the Detroit Tigers to the AL Central title and a win over the New York Yankees in the ALDS, Ron Washington, who directed the Rangers to their second straight AL pennant and World Series appearance, and Manny Acta, who steered the Indians to 11 more wins compared to last year.

In the NL, the leading candidates are two first-year managers, Kirk Gibson of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Ron Roenicke of the Milwaukee Brewers, led their teams to the top of their respective divisions, while the wily old veteran, Tony LaRussa of the St. Louis Cardinals, took his team to the top of the baseball world in what turned out to be his final season as manager.

Athlon's AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays

Athlon's NL Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson, Arizona Diamondbacks

Here's how the Athlon editors voted

As was the case with the votes for National League Rookie of the Year and American League Cy Young, the editors were in agreement as to who was the top skipper in each league this season with both winners getting every first-place vote. Overall, there was little discrepancy among each editors' top three in either league.

Charlie Miller's ballot:

AL Manager of the Year
1. Joe Maddon
The Rays lost star Carl Crawford and their entire bullpen to free agency, yet Maddon pieced together a corps of relievers and kept his troops believing they could win all season.
2. Manny Acta
3. Jim Leyland

NL Manager of the Year
1. Kirk Gibson
Gibson’s leadership transformed a 90-loss team into a 90-win division champion.
2. Ron Roenicke
3. Tony LaRussa

Braden Gall's ballot:

AL Manager of the Year
1. Joe Maddon
In a year that was supposed to be a rebuilding season in which Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Matt Garza and others were sent packing in the off-season, Maddon deserves most of the credit. For a collection or rookie arms, journeyman bullpensmen, utility infielders and Evan Longoria to surge into the playoffs is nothing short of a miracle.
2. Jim Leyland
3. Ron Washington

NL Manager of the Year:
1. Kirk Gibson
Gibson took what could have been a last place team and motivated them into division champs. Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, JJ Putz, Chris Young and more had career years all at the same time. The clubhouse mentality was the primary reason the D-Backs won the division.
2. Tony LaRussa
3. Ron Roenicke

Patrick Snow's ballot:

AL Manager of the Year
1. Joe Maddon
The Rays made the Playoffs after massive offseason personnel losses — Crawford, Garza, Bartlett, Pena, Benoit, Soriano, Balfour — and a 1-8 start. Competing with payroll-heavy New York and Boston, Maddon did a masterful job in leading Tampa Bay to 91 wins and the postseason for the third time in four years.
2. Jim Leyland
3. Ron Washington

NL Manager of the Year
1. Kirk Gibson
The math explains this one easily: 65-97 became 94-68 in Gibson’s first season in charge. Obviously (GM of the Year) Kevin Towers played a big role in the worst-to-first transformation, but the Diamondbacks took on the personality of their hard-nosed manager on the way to the NL West title.
2. Ron Roenicke
3. Tony La Russa

Mark Ross' ballot:

AL Manager of the Year
1. Joe Maddon
Despite managing a team that lost many of its star players to free agency, Maddon steered the Rays back to the postseason by finishing with a flourish. The Rays overcame a nine-game deficit in the final 24 games, overtaking the Red Sox and winning the AL Wild Card on the final day of the regular season.
2. Jim Leyland
The venerable Leyland directed a 14-game turnaround from the previous season and led the Tigers to the AL Central crown and a spot in the ALCS.
3. Ron Washington
The energetic and emotional Washington directed his Rangers to their second straight World Series appearance.

NL Manager of the Year
1. Kirk Gibson
In his first year as manager, Gibson directed the Diamondbacks from worst to first in the NL West, improving the team’s win total by 29 compared to the previous season.
2. Ron Roenicke
Another first-year manager, Roenicke guided the Brewers to the NL Central title and their first league championship series appearance since 1982, which was when the Brew Crew was in the American League.
3. Tony LaRussa
In what turned out to be his final season as the Cardinals’ skipper, LaRussa pushed all of the right buttons late in the regular season and during the postseason to win his third World Series ring and cap off a Hall of Fame career.

Other Baseball awards-related content:

American League Rookie of the Year

National League Rookie of the Year

American League Cy Young

National League Cy Young

American League MVP

National League MVP

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