SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Aaron Boone finished as a close runner-up, again.
Boone, the Yankees’ second-year manager, placed a tight second behind Twins rookie skipper Rocco Baldelli in the race for American League Manager of the Year, the Baseball Writers Association announced on Tuesday.
With 30 voters, two representing the markets from each of the 15 AL cities, Boone and Baldelli each received 13 first-place votes. However, Baldelli notched 13 second-place votes to Boone’s nine. Boone got four third-place votes to Baldelli’s two, and in the 5-3-1 scoring system, that gave Baldelli the 106-96 edge in points.
Baldelli guided his Twins to a 23-game improvement, from 78-84 to 101-51, giving the team its first AL Central title since 2010. The Twins proceeded to get swept by the Yankees in the AL Division Series. Ballots are turned in prior to the start of the postseason.
In Boone’s second year managing the Yankees, the team overcame a record-setting flurry of injuries — they set a known mark with 2,433 injured-list days, as per Major League Baseball — to go 103-59. The Yankees advanced to the AL Championship Series before falling in six games to the Astros for the right to represent the AL in the World Series.
Boone drew praise for his unshakeable nature, except when it came to defending his players against inexperienced umpires. In one such rant, July 18 at Yankee Stadium during a game against the Rays, Boone called his hitters “savages in the (bleeping) box,” getting ejected and subsequently suspended, earning the players’ wrestling belt as the star of the contest and launching a new marketing campaign for the club.
The last Yankees manager to win this honor was Joe Torre in 1998, when his Yankees set a major-league record with 114 regular-season wins.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash placed third with 33 points. In his fifth year running the Rays, Cash led the low-payroll entity to a 96-66 mark which landed them the second AL wild card, the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2013. Tampa Bay defeated Oakland in the wild-card game and extended the Astros to the maximum five games in the AL Division Series before getting eliminated.
Others receiving votes were the A’s Bob Melvin (19 points), the Astros’ A.J. Hinch (10) and the Indians’ Terry Francona (1).