The manager of the year award winners were announced last night on MLB Network. While the NL award went to Arizona manager Torey Lovullo, who took 18 of 30 first place votes, Milwaukee’s own Craig Counsell did get some attention in the vote. He finished in fourth place, collecting three first-place votes and 33 points overall.
In total, Counsell was listed on 13 of 30 voters ballots, receiving 3 first place votes, 4 second place, and 6 third place. The three members of the BBWAA who had Counsell listed in first place on their ballots were Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and Mark Bowman and AJ Cassavell from MLB.com. None of the managers that received votes made it on all 30 ballots, and five different managers got at least one first place vote. Lovullo did have more than double the points of second place, Dave Roberts of the Dodgers.
Adam McCalvy also noted that only three other Brewers managers have finished in the top three of the manager of the year vote in franchise history. Ron Roenicke did it in 2011, finishing second that year. Phil Garner was also a top-three manager in 1992 and 1997, and Tom Trebelhorn finished second in 1987. A Brewers manager has never won the award, though the award began in 1983, the year after Milwaukee’s lone World Series appearance.
Counsell led the Brewers to an 86-76 record in 2017, a 13-win improvement over the 73-89 record they posted in 2016. It was the 2nd biggest improvement in the National League, only behind the 24-win improvement by the Diamondbacks. It was a competitive year for the award in both leagues, as several teams made large improvements in their records. In addition to the Diamondbacks, both the Astros and Twins posted improvements of more than 20 wins over last season. It was also the first time since 2003 that three teams finished with 100+ wins.
While Craig Counsell didn’t win the award this year, the work he has done with this young team is quite impressive. The Brewers have a good chance to build on their success next year as they add on to the team this offseason. If the Brewers continue to improve in 2018, Counsell could take the next step from receiving votes for the award to winning the award himself.