Sporting News tabs Scioscia top skipper

Sporting News tabs Scioscia top skipper

ANAHEIM -- After guiding his team to the postseason for the fifth time in the past six years despite the tragic death of pitcher Nick Adenhart and various injuries to key players throughout the season, Angels manager Mike Scioscia was honored Wednesday as Sporting News' 2009 American League Manager of the Year.

The honor, which was voted on by a panel of 22 Major League Baseball managers, was certainly well-deserved, as it came after an emotional regular season for the Angels, who are currently down, 3-1, to the Yankees in the AL Championship Series.

The Angels faced the unthinkable task of carrying on with baseball after Adenhart was killed in a car crash on April 9, just hours after pitching six scoreless innings in his season debut for the Angels.

But the Angels kept Adenhart in their thoughts and honored him throughout the season by maintaining a locker for him at home and on the road while also wearing a patch on their jerseys. So when the Angels' clinched their fifth AL West title in the last six years, it was Adenhart who was on their minds.

"We remembered Nick before we started," Scioscia said at the time.

"He's with us. We've played the whole year with heavy hearts. But it was never about us, and it isn't about us. It's all about supporting Nick's family in any small way, and we're going to bring Nick's memory forward in his memory. The fact we can support that family in some way gives us a sense of peace."

Scioscia was a pillar of strength for his team during those trying times and throughout the year as the team's fearless leader.

"He's the rock and these guys know it," hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said. "All he asks our players to do is go out there and play hard to be the best they can to win. And these guys do it."

Scioscia also reached a milestone this season when he became the first manager in Major League history to guide his team to the postseason six times in his first 10 years at the helm. His team went 97-65 this season and won at least 90 games for the sixth time in the past eight seasons.

The club's 197 wins the past two seasons lead the Majors, and its five division titles since 2004 are also the most in the Majors during that time period.

It's been a welcome change for the Angels, who reached the postseason just three times in their first 39 years of existence before Scioscia became manager in 2000.

"There are a bunch of different reasons why he's such a good manager," catcher Jeff Mathis said. "But the one thing he preaches is discipline, and he's consistent with everything he does. He doesn't stray away from who he is and what he believes, so that's why everyone buys into it."

Scioscia is also a noted players' manager who doesn't keep secrets from his players and has his door open before and after every game.

"He's a great guy and you can talk to him about anything, which I think is good to have," right-hander Jered Weaver said. "But he's a very competitive guy who wants to win every time out. It's just great for this organization to have a guy that you can relate to and joke around with, but at the same time, he means business and gets things done."

Another noted players' manager, the Rockies' Jim Tracy, was named Sporting News' National League Manager of the Year.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.