Matheny runner-up for NL Manager of the Year

Skipper overcomes challenges to lead club to third straight division title

Matheny runner-up for NL Manager of the Year

In his most challenging year on the job, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny delivered arguably his best performance. And in the end, he earned his highest finish in the Baseball Writers' Association of America's National League Manager of the Year Award voting.

Matheny finished second in the BBWAA's voting, revealed Tuesday night. Cubs manager Joe Maddon won the award after leading the Cubs back into the postseason. The Mets' Terry Collins finished third.

Matheny totaled 87 points in the balloting process, behind Maddon's 124. This was Matheny's highest finish in his four years as the Cardinals' manager; he finished fifth in 2012 and fourth in '13 and '14.

NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR VOTING

Manager, Club 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Joe Maddon, CHC 18 11 1 124
Mike Matheny, STL 9 12 6 87
Terry Collins, NYM 3 7 13 49
Clint Hurdle, PIT     8 8
Bruce Bochy, SF     1 1
Don Mattingly, LAD     1 1

Despite his success in St. Louis, Matheny had never received a first-place vote until this season. Nine of the 30 first-place votes went to Matheny, with 18 going to Maddon and three to Collins. Maddon appeared on all 30 ballots, while Matheny received at least a third-place vote from 27 of the 30 voters.

Complete 2015 Awards coverage

Matheny earned the recognition by leading the Cardinals to a 100-win season and their third straight NL Central championship, despite a roster decimated by key injuries and losses throughout the season.

In each of his first four full seasons at the helm, Matheny has guided the Cardinals to the postseason while posting the best winning percentage in the Majors during that time.

Before the winner was revealed Tuesday night, Matheny was asked on MLB Network if last season was the most difficult he's experienced as a manager.

"I think that's a fair statement. You look at the challenges we had health-wise, which everybody does -- it never is an excuse. You never know how your team's going to respond," Matheny said. "We just had great leadership. Even when some of our leaders, like an Adam Wainwright, went down, we had other guys that stepped up and figured out how to do it. We put some young guys in positions that they may not have been prepared for, but they got in there and competed like they were."

This year presented a new set of challenges for Matheny. The Cardinals had to overcome the death of Oscar Taveras, a teammate and friend. And no team was afflicted by injuries quite like the Cards, who played at various times without ace Wainwright, left fielder Matt Holliday, first baseman Matt Adams, left-hander Jaime Garcia, setup man Jordan Walden, reliever Matt Belisle and outfielders Jon Jay and Randal Grichuk.

In their place, the Cardinals relied on a number of young players -- all while battling for a championship in the Majors' toughest division. Matheny deflected the credit for handling those injuries to the Cardinals' front office, player development staff, clubhouse leaders and the players themselves.

"We're the fortunate beneficiaries of great talent," Matheny said on MLB Network. "Fortunately, we have a lot of people going about it the right way ... and then we have a great atmosphere with veteran players."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.