SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) – A month after his San Diego Padres were knocked out of the playoff chase by the San Francisco Giants on the final day, Bud Black was named the National League Manager of the Year Wednesday in a vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy finished third, behind second-place Dusty Baker, who won the award three-times while managing the Giants from 1993-2000.
“I guess this vote was sort of like our season, it came down to the wire,” Black said on a conference call with reporters.
Black was selected after guiding San Diego to a 15-game turnaround despite the second-lowest payroll in the majors. The Padres finished 90-72 and led the NL West until a late, 10-game slump and then a loss to the Giants on the last day eliminated them.
Black drew 16 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association and got 104 points. Baker had 13 first-place votes and 103 points.
Bochy of the World Series champion Giants, Atlanta’s retiring Bobby Cox and Philadelphia’s Charlie Manuel got the other first-place votes.
“This was a great year in the NL,” said Black, who was on a golf course near San Diego when he got the word. “I guess this vote could’ve gone either way. I feel fortunate that I won. All these guys are so deserving.”
Baker led the NL Central champion Reds to their first playoff spot since 1995. He was listed on 27 of the 32 ballots while Black was picked on 26.
“I’m not terribly disappointed because I didn’t expect it,” Baker told The Associated Press. “Buddy did a great job.”
Baker was in the mountains of California when he heard the vote totals. The announcement came on the one-year anniversary of his father’s death.
“When I woke up today, I was thinking about my dad, not the award,” Baker said. “He’d be proud of me.”
This marked the third time that the NL Manager of the Year was decided by a single point. Two BBWAA voters from every league city send in three top choices when the regular season ends. Votes were counted on a 5-3-1 basis.
The pitching-rich Padres were a surprise all season, and led the division by 6 1/2 games on Aug. 25. But San Diego’s inability to hit proved to be its downfall.
Needing a win to keep playing, San Diego lost 3-0 at San Francisco on the last day and tarnished the year – “162 defines your season,” Black summed up.
“It still stings,” he said.
Black moved the Padres within one win of a playoff berth for the second time in his four seasons. His first season as manager, in 2007, the Padres lost an epic 13-inning wild-card tiebreaker game at Colorado.
A former pitcher who once played under Baker, Black was hired by the Padres after Bochy was forced out following the 2006 season.
Black and Bochy are the lone Padres winners for the manager award, first presented in 1983. That first year, Tom Lasorda of the Dodgers beat Houston’s Bob Lillis by one point. In 1985, St. Louis’ Whitey Herzog topped Cincinnati’s Pete Rose by a point.