Incredible turnarounds earn Arizona’s Lovullo, Minnesota’s Molitor MLB manager of year awards

Divisional Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three
Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks is the fourth first-year manager to win the award in the past four years.
(Norm Hall / Getty Images)

Dave Roberts threw a little house party Tuesday. Bud Black was the guest of honor.

The men live a couple miles apart in northern San Diego county. Roberts, the manager of the Dodgers, and Black, the manager of the Colorado Rockies, got together for the announcement of the National League manager of the year award.

The other finalist, Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks, was by himself, at a ballpark in Arizona.

“Of course I would have gone,” Lovullo said with a chuckle. “When I was told that I was by myself and they were together, I was a little bit jealous.”


Lovullo can console himself with the award. After leading the Diamondbacks from a 93-loss season to the division series, Lovullo succeeded Roberts as the league’s manager of the year.

Roberts finished second, Black third. Paul Molitor of the Twins won the American League honor, after Minnesota became the first team in MLB history to make the playoffs a season after losing 100 games. Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians was second and A.J. Hinch of the Houston Astros third. Molitor joined Frank Robinson as the only men to be elected to the Hall of Fame as a player and later be selected as a manager of the year.

Lovullo, 52, who was raised in the San Fernando Valley and played at UCLA, became the fourth first-year manager to win the award in the past four years, following Roberts last year, Jeff Banister of the Texas Rangers in 2015 and Matt Williams of the Washington Nationals in 2014.

Of the five manager hires thus far this fall, Ron Gardenhire — Lovullo’s bench coach this year — is the only one with previous major league experience. Three men who have managed multiple clubs were dismissed after leading their teams to the postseason this year: Dusty Baker, John Farrell and Joe Girardi.


Lovullo said front offices want to hire managers familiar with analytics and willing to embrace them, even at the expense of some of the traditional autonomy in decision-making. As a result, he said, the jobs are going to what he called “the newer model, the younger model type of a manager.”

Said Lovullo: “It’s definitely trending in that way, and I think the main part of it is the analytics.”

Roberts led the Dodgers to the World Series. Lovullo won the award as manager of the year for leading a team that finished 11 games behind the Dodgers and were swept by them in the division series, although voting concluded before the playoffs.

“We feel strongly about our organization and our players,” Lovullo said. “Whether we have closed that gap or not, we’re not exactly sure. … The Dodgers walked through us in three games, so we know what we have to do to improve for that to not happen.”

When the Dodgers lost in the playoffs last year, their owners committed $192 million to bring back free agents Rich Hill, Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner. It is uncertain whether Arizona can afford to bring back free-agent outfielder J.D. Martinez, who hit 29 home runs in 62 games for the Diamondbacks this year.

“It’s a tremendous challenge for us to try and stride with the Dodgers, knowing that there is a difference in payroll,” Lovullo said.

“We are taking a different avenue and a different walk than they are. They have their challenges, to make sure they continue to bring in the right players and match what their payroll demands are. We just have to do it at a little bit lower scale.”

That, of course, is his problem. The league’s Twitter account posted a picture of Roberts and Black lounging on patio furniture Tuesday afternoon, with this caption: “Too blessed to be stressed.”


Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin

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