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Cora the runner-up for AL Manager of the Year

November 13, 2018

BOSTON -- Though the Red Sox have won the World Series an MLB-high four times in the 21st century, the American League's Manager of the Year Award continues to elude their candidates.Rookie manager Alex Cora, who guided Boston to a franchise-record 108 wins, finished second to Oakland's Bob Melvin in

BOSTON -- Though the Red Sox have won the World Series an MLB-high four times in the 21st century, the American League's Manager of the Year Award continues to elude their candidates.
Rookie manager Alex Cora, who guided Boston to a franchise-record 108 wins, finished second to Oakland's Bob Melvin in the race for Manager of the Year.
:: AL Manager of the Year voting totals ::
It was Melvin's third time winning the award, as he guided the Athletics to 97 wins and a Wild Card berth despite a barrage of injuries to his starting rotation.
Kevin Cash, a former teammate of Cora's on the 2008 Red Sox, finished third after the fine job that he did with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Since the inception of the BBWAA Manager of the Year Award in 1983, John McNamara (1986) and Jimy Williams (1999) are the only two Boston skippers to bring home the trophy.
Melvin finished with 19 first-place votes, while Cora had seven and Cash had five. Cora also garnered 11 second-place votes and 11 third-place votes and finished with 79 overall points, compared to 121 for Melvin.
Just like John Farrell and Terry Francona for recent Red Sox championship teams, Cora might have been hurt in the Manager of the Year voting by Boston's high payroll, which was tops in MLB this season. Francona went on to win Manager of the Year twice (2013, '16) for the Indians.
Votes for all BBWAA Awards are submitted before the start of the postseason. Even without those 11 wins his Red Sox tacked on in October, Cora had a strong candidacy this year.

The Red Sox had a unified approach that was evident all season long, and players lauded Cora for his communication and organizational skills.
"He put together a clubhouse that had more unity than I had ever seen," said Red Sox owner John Henry. "It showed day to day perseverance, sense of purpose, dedication every day. He had them ready every day. On every level, he was a superior manager. He was every bit as good as our best player."
Cora came just one win away from equaling Ralph Houk (1961 Yankees) for the most ever by a rookie manager.
For his hitters, Cora preached hunting for pitches, rather than being passive early in the count. This resulted in MVP finalist Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogaerts both having major upticks in their numbers from the previous season.

Cora also kept his entire position-player roster involved all season, which made role players effective and also kept his starters fresh.
From a pitching standpoint, Cora closely managed the workload of the staff from the start of Spring Training through the end of the regular season, always with the postseason in mind. That enabled him to empty the tank in October as pitchers David Price, Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi went back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen -- "rovers," as Cora called them.
In pressurized Boston, Cora remained unflappable. When he made a mistake, he usually owned up to it before anyone got the chance to criticize him.
"He's been great," said Red Sox ace Chris Sale. "I've said it a million times, it can be 10-0 or 1-1, he's the same guy. You can look at your manager and he's just over there eating sunflower seeds, having a good time, just ready for the next big thing to happen, and it sends a shockwave through the dugout and helps you relax a little bit."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.