Hyde finishes runner-up in AL Manager of the Year race

O's manager garners 9 first-place votes after team's huge turnaround in 2022

November 16th, 2022

In mid-December 2018, Brandon Hyde sat in front of the media having just been introduced as the Orioles’ new manager. The first-time skipper faced the challenging task of helping guide a struggling MLB franchise back to success, and he understood the tough times that lay ahead.

"We're taking this one step at a time," Hyde said then. "We understand where we are, and we're going to be process-based."

It was a lengthy process, and some teams might have opted for a managerial change after three seasons without seeing much improvement in win totals. But Baltimore kept its trust in the rebuild and in Hyde -- and it paid off big in 2022.

On Tuesday night, Hyde was announced as the runner-up in this year’s American League Manager of the Year voting. Cleveland’s Terry Francona won the award, receiving 17 of the 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and collecting 112 points. Hyde garnered nine first-place votes, nine second-place votes and seven third-place votes for 79 points.

Seattle’s Scott Servais, the other finalist, placed third with 43 points (including one first-place vote). The other three first-place votes went to Houston’s Dusty Baker, the fourth-place finisher with 31 points.

Although the 49-year-old Hyde did not become the fourth Orioles manager to win the award, it was still significant that he received national recognition for an impressive season, one that may be looked back upon as a clear turning point for the franchise.

“It’s an amazing achievement for me, and it’s a lot of hard work from a lot of people,” Hyde said on the MLB Network broadcast. “From where we’ve come from to where we are now, it’s a good feeling. But it’s a lot of people behind the scenes. For me, this nomination for an award is a coaching staff and an organization award from where we’ve come from the last few years.”

In 2022, Baltimore did not return to the postseason -- which it hasn’t reached since ‘16 -- but it went 83-79 and stayed alive in the postseason race until Sept. 30, five days from the end of the regular season. The O’s finished three games back of the Rays for the third AL Wild Card spot.

It would be difficult to find many people who predicted the Orioles to win 83 games this year; most had them nowhere close to that. Baseball Prospectus’ preseason PECOTA projections had Baltimore recording only 61 victories. FanGraphs gave the O’s a 0.1 percent chance to reach the postseason, the lowest odds of any MLB team.

The turnaround didn’t come without growing pains. In Hyde’s first season at the helm in 2019, the Orioles went 54-108. There was some optimism after they finished 25-35 in the shortened ‘20 season, but the on-field results went the opposite way in ‘21, when the O’s were 52-110.

In 2022, the arrival of some of the farm system’s top prospects provided a boost in Baltimore. None had a greater impact than catcher Adley Rutschman, who was the runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year. Infielder Gunnar Henderson, outfielder Kyle Stowers and left-hander DL Hall were among those who were also called up and made an impact.

Other contributors, such as righties Dean Kremer (3.23 ERA) and Félix Bautista (2.19 ERA and 15 saves), third baseman Ramón Urías (an AL Gold Glove winner) and shortstop Jorge Mateo (AL-high 35 stolen bases), didn’t have top-prospect status. But they all emerged as key players who showed encouraging development.

“We got more talented,” Hyde said. “We got some younger players to the big leagues that got better and really helped out our club.”

Hyde took this core of youngsters who lacked big league experience and guided them to near-unprecedented success. With their 31-game improvement, the Orioles joined the 1899 St. Louis Perfectos as the only teams in AL/NL history to lose 110-plus games in a season and then finish .500 or better the next year.

Now, expectations are raised for 2023. So Hyde will try to help Baltimore take another step forward, which could even bring a return to the postseason.

“This year, we made huge strides, obviously,” Hyde said. “And that’s the key -- we want to continue to get better."