HOUSTON – After leading the Astros to 95 regular-season wins and an American League pennant, Dusty Baker was named 2021 Manager of the Year by Baseball America on Tuesday.
Baker, who finished third in AL Manager of the Year voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, became the first skipper in Major League history to win division titles with five different clubs when the Astros won the AL West. He’s the ninth manager in history to win pennants in both the AL and NL.
Baker is the third Astros manager to win the Baseball America award, joining Larry Dierker (1998) and A.J. Hinch (2017). Baker also won it with the Giants in 2000. Baker, who signed a one-year contract extension with the Astros last month, led the team to the World Series before falling to the Braves in six games.
When Houston was riddled with injuries -- including losing ace Justin Verlander for the entire season following Tommy John surgery and third baseman Alex Bregman for 59 games with a strained left quadriceps -- Baker and the Astros held steady to finish with the second-best record in the AL, behind the 100-win Rays.
The Astros have made the playoffs in both of Baker’s seasons as manager, making it as far as the AL Championship Series in 2020 before losing to the Rays. Though the Astros had a losing record in 2020 (29–31), they were able to make the postseason due to the expanded playoff picture after the pandemic-shortened season.
Baker was named the NL Manager of the Year by the BBWAA with the Giants in 1993, 1997 and 2000. He finished the 2021 season with 1,987 career wins, which ranks 12th-most all time; 10 of the 11 managers ranked ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame. The only one that is not is Bruce Bochy, who is not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame.
Baker will enter the 2022 season within striking distance of surpassing Bochy (2,003), Leo Durocher (2,008) and Walter Alston (2,040) on the all-time wins list. Baker played for the Dodgers in 1976, which was Alston’s final season as a manager.