Update - Congratulations to Tomjames for winning the USMLB Manager of the year! A well deserved honor.
The first two rounds of voting for the USMLB Manager of the year are in the books. Congratulations to the following teams/managers that are the finalists!
Anaheim Beefpound - beefpac
Atlanta Brave Vawts - vawt
Tacoma Pioneers - tomjames
Colorado Sky Sox – knucklebones
At this point, we’re down to only the best of the best for this season. The manager reviews below have been condensed to show the final grades and any new information. You can find full manager reviews in the blog links. The team records and other changes over the past week have been updated below. In addition, a short paragraph about each manager illustrates any points that stand out about their seasons. Best of luck to the finalists!
ANAHEIM BEEFPOUND – beefpac
ML team: A- Anaheim won the AL West. Veteran closer Hank Epstein led the AL with 45 saves, and is a finalist for the AL Cy Young Award.
Minors: B The AAA and High A Beefpound teams have reached the semifinals of the playoffs.
Trades: A Young SP Herbert Brandt was a huge acquisition for Anaheim coming over from San Diego. Brandt is a finalist for the AL Rookie of the Year
Player acquisitions: B
Player development: C+
Record compared to talent: B+
Anaheim had an excellent season and is the winner of the AL west for the 3rd straight season. Perhaps winning the division is by default in the AL West, as every other team in the division has finished with a losing record in each season so far. Two major positives stand out about the Beefpound this season. First of all, Anaheim has amassed an incredible amount of young talent in their first three seasons, and they are one of the younger teams in the playoffs. Secondly, beefpac had the best series of trades this season of any team in the league. They brought in several young stars and came away as a winner in every trade they made. Anaheim won one less game this season than last year.
ATLANTA BRAVE VAWTS – vawt
ML team: A Atlanta finished one win shy of the best record in the league, and earned a first round bye in the playoffs. Veteran RF Nick Collins has put up what may be his best season yet. Collins is among the league leaders in AVG, OBP, and OPS, and is a finalist for the AL MVP award.
Minors: C Atlanta’s Low A team has reached the semifinals of the playoffs.
Player acquisitions: D+
Player development: A- It doesn’t matter whether he’s a starter or closer, Phil Nitkowski is one of the best young hurlers in the game and has just dominated hitters all season. Nitkowski is a finalist for the AL Cy Young Award.
Record compared to talent: B+
Atlanta had another great season led by great pitching. The Brave Vawts deserve credit for winning the most difficult division in the AL. The AL East is sending three different teams to the playoffs. For Atlanta to be battling for the best record in the entire league coming out of that division is a tribute to just how good the Brave Vawts are this year. On the other hand, Atlanta is coming off of 102 wins last season. Their difference of -2 wins from last season is the worst among any of the finalists. The Brave Vawts were also by far the least active in trades and player acquisitions this season from among the finalists.
TACOMA PIONEERS – tomjames
ML team: C+ The Pioneers missed the playoffs.
Minors: A- The AA and High A Pioneers have reached the semifinals of the playoffs.
Player acquisitions: A-
Player development: B+
Record compared to talent: B
Tacoma is the only finalist that did not make the playoffs this season. Still, the season must be looked upon as a success for the Pioneers, who win the award for the biggest transformation over the course of the season. They performed a great mix of moves bringing in a few solid free agents and cutting away older players that have no part in the future of the franchise. The improvement of 13 wins from a season ago is a great start to a new era in Tacoma.
COLORADO SKY SOX – knucklebones
ML: 101-61 (tied for top record in the league)
ML team: A Colorado finished tied with Texas for the top record in the ML. Veterans RF Earl Williams and 3B Vicente Domingo are finalists for the NL MVP. SP Gil Henson is a rare Colorado finalist for the AL Cy Young Award.
Player acquisitions: C+
Player development: C-
Record compared to talent: A
The biggest move for the Sky Sox this season was to move the entire franchise to the mile high city. With a veteran team filled with sluggers, that move paid huge dividends for Colorado, and they tied for the season’s best record with 101 wins. Among the finalists, Colorado had the biggest increase in victories this season, with a net gain of 17 wins over last year. The Sky Sox have also done a credible job of managing reasonable contracts for a veteran team.