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Pirates manager Clint Hurdle

Clint Hurdle Wins The Sporting News NL Manager of the Year

Clint Hurdle is The Sporting News NL Manager of the Year. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Clint Hurdle is The Sporting News NL Manager of the Year. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Yesterday The Sporting News named Francisco Liriano their NL Comeback Player of the Year after the lefty dominated a players vote. Today, Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was named The Sporting News National League Manager of the Year. The award was decided based on a vote held only by NL managers. Hurdle won with five of the 15 votes. In second was Fredi Gonzalez with three. Those were the only managers to receive more than one vote.

In a lot of cases, the manager of the year automatically goes to someone like Hurdle, who posts a winning season with a team that wasn’t expected to win. In a lot of those cases, it’s more about the players, and the manager didn’t really do much to impact that team except to watch everyone improve. In this case, Hurdle did a few unconventional things that a lot of managers wouldn’t do, specifically embracing the extreme defensive shifts that led to this team’s success. I wrote about why Hurdle deserved to be the Manager of the Year last week, pointing out those unconventional approaches. Another key factor in that article is how Hurdle held the team together, which allowed them to go the whole season without losing more than four games in a row. It also prepared them to perform well in almost every big game of the season.

Like every managerial award, the bulk of the credit has to go to the players who put the manager in position to win the award. But unlike a lot of previous awards, I think this is more than just a case where the manager with the best or most surprising record won. You could easily make an argument that Hurdle played a key role in the success the Pirates had this year.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.brooks.581 Stephen Brooks

    Too bad he “doesn’t know how to manage in September.”

  • leadoff

    I will give Hurdle credit for No.2 on your list, but not No. 1, he had very little to do with the shifts, that was Huntington and his tech people. Huntington is the one that said he went to Hurdles home to discuss shifts, when your boss talks, you listen.
    I don’t know if Hurdle deserves manager of the year because of his poor field managing, but he does have many quality manager traits.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      He definitely deserves more credit for the clubhouse management. But the idea that managers always run the team the way they’re told is incorrect.

      The Cardinals tried defensive shifts, then abandoned it when some players didn’t like it. There are Pirates who don’t like shifts (most notably, A.J. Burnett), but Hurdle convinced them to go with it, and kept with the system.

  • https://www.facebook.com/scott.skink Scott Skink

    Hurdle got five votes, Fredi got three. Meaning seven others got one vote each or some managers just didn’t vote. Sporting News reported only nine votes (Matheny got 1) out of 15 possible – seems voter turnout for this is getting about as bad as US elections!

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