La Russa became the first manager to finish as the top runner-up on six different occasions when he came in second to Colorado's Jim Tracy. The results of the balloting, conducted at the end of the regular season, were announced on Wednesday. La Russa guided the Cardinals to a 91-71 season and their first division title since 2006.
"It's a compliment to the players, a second-place finish," La Russa said. "I think we had an effective year as a coaching staff. I congratulate Jim and his staff and feel good about the effort that we put in."
Tracy received 29 of 32 first place votes, with La Russa getting two of the remaining three. La Russa also received 13 second-place votes and six third-place votes. He totaled 55 points on a 5-3-1 scoring system. Joe Torre of the Dodgers finished in third and was the only other manager to receive a first-place vote.
La Russa has won the Manager of the Year Award three times in the American League, and won the NL award in 2002 with St. Louis. He received credit for helping keep the Cardinals in contention during a difficult first half of the season. St. Louis dealt with disabled-list stints from ace Chris Carpenter, projected No. 3 starter Kyle Lohse, third baseman Troy Glaus and shortstop Khalil Greene before making a series of midseason moves that transformed the team into the clear favorite in the National League Central.
Some of the credit for that must surely go to right-hander Adam Wainwright, a favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award when it is announced on Thursday, and slugger Albert Pujols, the prohibitive favorite for Most Valuable Player honors. But some must also go to La Russa.
"I [look at] how he prepared the club coming out of spring," general manager John Mozeliak said. "And how he held it together to allow us to get into June and July, to where we could make some moves to try to push this thing to the finish line. The more I'm around him, the more my admiration grows for him on how he does his job. We're very lucky to have him managing here in St. Louis."
La Russa tipped his cap to runaway winner Tracy, but also to seventh-place finisher Charlie Manuel, who helmed the Phillies to their second straight division title and ultimately second straight National League pennant.
"I don't believe that Charlie Manuel and his staff are getting the credit they deserve," La Russa said. "I think he's done a really outstanding job. Along with commending Jim, I would also put my comments alongside Charlie."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.