Terry Francona will always be known in Boston as the manager who in 2004 directed the Red Sox to the franchise's first World Series championship since 1918. Dave Roberts will always be remembered as the player whose stolen base in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series that year
Terry Francona will always be known in Boston as the manager who in 2004 directed the Red Sox to the franchise's first World Series championship since 1918. Dave Roberts will always be remembered as the player whose stolen base in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series that year sparked an historic turnaround that saw Boston come back to win after being down 3-0, setting the stage for everything that followed.
Their lives intersected again Tuesday night when Francona of the Indians and Roberts of the Dodgers were voted the AL and the National League Managers of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
• All-time Manager of the Year Award winners
"I laugh about it all the time, but the truth is that [without that play] it probably would have been a completely different outcome," Francona said on a conference call. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy for him. I don't need to evaluate his managing, but I can certainly be happy for him because he's a friend of mine."
Roberts played for several managers during his career, but said that Francona definitely influenced his approach.
"I think the way he related to players, his relationship to the front office and fans," Roberts said. "For me, the main thing with Tito is that he just let players play. And I think when you as a coach or a manager can empower your players, it can go a long way. From Tito to a lot of great managers and coaches I had the great pleasure to be around, kind of helped me form my managing style."
• AL Manager of the Year the second for Francona
:: AL Manager of the Year voting totals ::
Francona has managed 16 years in the big leagues with three teams, has been to the World Series three times and won it twice and was previously voted Manager of the Year with the Indians in 2013. Roberts was a rookie manager. They had one thing in common this season, though. Both had to overcome significant obstacles to succeed.
In Cleveland, Francona's roster was notably depleted by shoulder surgery to starting outfielder Michael Brantley that ended his season after just 11 games. The rotation was decimated when Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar went on the disabled list in September.
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Still, the Indians won 94 games and went all the way to Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs. (The BBWAA voting takes place before the start of the playoffs and reflects only the results of the regular season.)
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But this, Francona said, was one of his most satisfying seasons, although not necessarily because of the bottom line.
"It was an unbelievably satisfying year, but I'm not sure it was because of the hardships," he said. "Our guys from Day One were such an easy group to work with. We'd talk every morning in Spring Training about what we were going to try to do. And then they'd go do it. And that was the way it was all year.
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"I can't remember having a team meeting where I had to raise my voice. We'd meet from time to time, but not to where you had to throw food or anything like that. This group really always tried to do the right thing. And when you've got guys doing that, you're in pretty good shape."
:: NL Manager of the Year voting totals ::
Roberts faced a challenge that was just as daunting. The Dodgers placed a record 28 players on the Major League disabled list this season. They used 15 starting pitchers and lost ace Clayton Kershaw for more than 10 weeks. As late as July 8, they were 6 1/2 games out of first place.
Roberts' upbeat personality and masterful handling of his pitching helped Los Angeles win 91 games. He became the sixth manager to be voted Manager of the Year in his first full season since the award was instituted in 1983 and the third in a row, following Jeff Banister last year and Matt Williams of the Nationals in 2014.
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Like Francona, that wasn't the most rewarding part of how the season unfolded.
"It's about the process," Roberts said. "This is actually the first day I've had a chance to reflect. To set goals, to play every out, to try to get better. That's what made me happy."
Francona and Roberts were the only managers to be named on every ballot.
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Francona received 22 of 30 first-place and 128 points to finish ahead of Banister of the Rangers (64) and Buck Showalter of the Orioles (44). John Farrell (Red Sox), Joe Girardi (Yankees) and Scott Servais (Mariners) also received votes.
Roberts received 16 first-place votes and 108 points to best Joe Maddon of the Cubs (70) and Dusty Baker of the Nationals (66). Terry Collins of the Mets and Don Mattingly of the Marlins also received votes.
Esurance MLB Awards week concludes Friday on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET with the MLB Awards. Categories include Best Major Leaguer, Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Executive and Manager.
Paul Hagen** is a columnist for MLB.com.