Bill Ladson

Williams named Sporting News' top NL manager

Rookie skipper led team through injuries to 96 wins, division title

Williams named Sporting News' top NL manager

WASHINGTON -- A panel of 22 managers voted Matt Williams Sporting News' National League Manager of the Year.

Even thought he dealt with major injuries to players such as Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Ryan Zimmerman, Williams guided the Nationals to a 96-66 record, which was the best in the NL. Hired to replace Davey Johnson after the 2013 season, Williams guided the Nationals to their second division title in three years.

When reached by phone, Williams felt it was more of an organizational award.

"I'm honored to be considered," Williams said. "The award is testament to our staff and certainly our team. I'm honored to be a part of that. I feel good for our organization."

Williams didn't rely on the long ball like he did as a player. It surprised no one when Williams would put on the hit and run or have one of his players steal a base.

Williams also showed who was the boss. He took Harper out for not hustling and had it out with left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who slammed the ball in Williams' hand after he was taken out of a game.

"He has managed the team with the best record with a lot of difficulties along the way. He was really the steady hand and the common force that allowed us to go where we are at now," general manager Mike Rizzo said about Williams. "He has a knowledge of the game -- first and foremost. He was a respected player. He played the game the right way. He has the respect of the players as a player walking into this place. But [he also] has the respect of the players as a manager.

"He had some tough decisions along the way. He showed extreme calmness through adversity and really exuded leadership when we needed it the most."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashinNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.