Girardi fifth in AL Manager of Year Award voting

Girardi fifth in AL Manager of Year Award voting

Girardi fifth in AL Manager of Year Award voting
Pushing the buttons from the manager's seat in the Bronx is never mistaken for a low-stress task, but many observers agreed that Yankees skipper Joe Girardi met many of his tasks with aplomb over the course of the 2011 season.

Girardi's management of a 97-win club steered the Yankees to an American League East title and their 16th playoff appearance in 17 years, earning the skipper consideration for the AL Manager of the Year Award.

"People talk about the pressure of this job," Girardi said. "The pressure comes from within. You can manage any club, you don't want to lose. You go there to win. That's the bottom line."

The award was ultimately secured by Joe Maddon of the Rays in balloting results announced by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Wednesday.

AL Manager of the Year voting
Manager Team 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Joe Maddon Rays 26 1 133
Jim Leyland Tigers 1 13 10 54
Ron Washington Rangers 1 7 5 31
Manny Acta Indians 3 7 16
Joe Girardi Yankees 3 5 14
Mike Scioscia Angels 1 1 4

Girardi's year, however, earned him applause both inside and outside his clubhouse doors.

"For me, he's obviously the Manager of the Year," third baseman Alex Rodriguez said in September.

While Girardi had the advantage of a big-money roster to mix and match, his club had to overcome several huge challenges during the course of the year.

Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP Award winner, was knocked out for a month in July with a meniscus tear in his right knee, and captain Derek Jeter's pursuit of 3,000 hits was halted for three weeks in June by a right calf strain.

Right-hander Phil Hughes, an 18-game winner in 2010, was limited to 74 2/3 innings due to injuries. The Yankees also lost Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano, key pieces of their bullpen, for significant periods of time.

However, they were rewarded for their faith in veterans like Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez.

"Overall, [Girardi has] been the one constant that floated over the water," Rodriguez said. "He's just been terrific. He does a fantastic job with our veteran players, communicating with us.

"A lot of his great leadership things, you guys will never know about. That's what makes him so special. I think Joe does an incredible job, and I don't think he gets enough credit."

Only the Phillies (102-60) had a better record in the Majors than Girardi's team, and the Yankees were in first place or held a share of first place for 98 days in 2011 -- including each of the final 25.

"I thought Joe did a great job," general manager Brian Cashman said. "This team, I don't think by anybody -- including myself -- was picked to have the best record in the AL. And we didn't really change that roster much at all, other than promotions. We found a way to slot people in and make them believe in themselves."

The 2011 Yankees became the fourth club in Major League history to hit at least 220 homers and steal 140 bases, joining the 1996 Colorado Rockies, the '98 Toronto Blue Jays and the 2009 Texas Rangers.

"I never doubt the guys in the room," Girardi said. "I think the effort in there is tremendous. Sometimes that can be overlooked -- the effort the guys put in. When things go bad, the effort is overlooked. They've worked hard."

As is par for the course around Yankee Stadium, there were also controversies and distractions for Girardi to defuse, a natural byproduct of the brighter media spotlight that Yankees managers have had to handle.

Most notably, Girardi had to handle the situation with veteran Jorge Posada, who initially struggled with a move to designated hitter and asked out of the lineup before a nationally televised game against the Red Sox in May.

Shortly before the playoffs began, Girardi was asked what advice he'd give to a younger version of himself, based upon what he has learned in his three years at the helm of the Bombers.

"Just be patient," Girardi replied. "Try to understand what it entails, and just be open-minded that there are going to be things that happen that you probably didn't anticipate."

The winner of the National League Manager of the Year Award back in 2006 with the Marlins, Girardi became the sixth Yankees manager to lead his club to three consecutive postseason appearances, joining Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Ralph Houk and Joe Torre.

Well known for his stats-based approach to managing, Girardi has had to develop a thick skin to succeed in his position. While the five-game loss to the Tigers in the AL Division Series stung, Girardi said that he does not permit himself to get caught up in criticism.

"You can do everything for the right reasons and it's not going to work, you know what I'm saying?" Girardi said. "You can bring in Mariano Rivera and it's the right move to bring him in. Every once in a while, it's not going to work. That's just the way the game is."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.