Bob Melvin and Davey Johnson weren't supposed to be working in October, and the baseball writers rewarded them for their teams' improbable division titles.
Melvin led the Oakland Athletics and Johnson led the Washington Nationals to division titles in 2012 after both teams had losing records in 2011.
While the Nationals were up-and-coming with top draft picks Stephen Strasburg and Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper ready to contribute to the big club, the Athletics came out of nowhere with a roster of young, unproven players and a couple of veterans sprinkled in.
"Somebody has to get these awards, and I'm lucky enough to be in the position for it, but it was a concerted effort from everybody in our organization to accomplish what we did this year in a year that probably not a whole lot was expected of us," Melvin said to MLB.com.
Melvin led the A's to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 with a 94-68 record, 20 more wins than they had in 2011. Oakland won its final six games and rallied past the two-time defending pennant-winning Texas Rangers on the final day of the season. The A's were 13 games behind on June 30 and went 72-38 from there. It was the second time Melvin has won the award, winning in the the NL as the Arizona Diamondbacks' manager in 2007. He's the sixth to win it in both leagues.
It was a close vote, however, as the Baltimore Orioles had their own improbable run to the playoffs. The Orioles won the AL wild-card with an even better one-year improvement -- from a 69-93 record to a 93-69 record, an improvement of 24 games. Showalter and Melvin were in first and second place on all 28 ballots, with Melvin getting 16 first-place votes to Showalter's 12. Both the A's and Orioles lost in the AL Division Series round, however.
In the National League, the vote was a landslide for Johnson. The Nationals had an 18-game improvement in 2011, from an 80-81 record to 98-64 and the best record in baseball. Johnson, the oldest manager in the majors in 2012, led the Nationals to the National League Championship Series, where they lost to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. It was the first time the playoffs were played in Washington since the 1933 World Series.
"I was proud to be part of the organization because [it] provided me with a lot of talented players," Johnson said to MLB.com. "To me, it was like an organization award. ... I had 25 guys who really [worked hard] under tough circumstances. Hopefully, I didn't hold them back."
The Nationals finished with a winning record for the first time since the franchise moved from Montreal before the 2005 season.
Johnson, like Melvin, has also won the award in both leagues, having won it in 1997 when he was the manager of the Baltimore Orioles. The others: Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland and Lou Piniella.
Dusty Baker of the Reds came in second and Bruce Bochy of the Giants came in third. They were the only other managers to receive first-place votes from the writers.
2012 Manager Of The Year Voting
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