For the second year in a row, Craig Counsell is being named the National League’s Manager of the Year by The Sporting News.
This time, he’ll share the award with Atlanta’s Brian Snitker after winning last year’s contest outright. Unlike the BBWAA Manager of the Year award, the Sporting News award is based on voting by fellow managers in the league.
Counsell and Snitker both received 6 votes from National League managers, while Colorado’s Bud Black received 3.
Counsell is just the 4th manager ever — dating back to 1936 — to win the award in back-to-back seasons, joining St. Louis’ Billy Southworth in 1941 and 1942, Atlanta’s Bobby Cox from 2002-2005, and Cleveland’s Terry Francona in 2016 and 2017.
The only other Brewers manager to win the Sporting News award is George Bamberger in 1978. No Brewers manager has won it twice until now.
While some natural media may have taken to criticizing Counsell’s handling of the pitching staff in the postseason — despite the fact it has his team within 2 wins of its first World Series appearance in nearly 40 years — it’s clear getting the most out of less is gaining Counsell high levels of respect from those within the game.
As Travis Shaw notes in the Sporting News’ announcement of the award, not only did Counsell have to arrange the puzzle pieces — including those that didn’t seem to fit together — he had to manage the feelings of the players involved.
“Mixing and matching with different matchups and keeping everybody fresh and keeping everybody in there — it’s a lot harder than people think,” Brewers infielder Travis Shaw said. “And I think he’s done a really good job of that.”
We’ll have to wait a month or so to see where Counsell finishes in the baseball writers’ award voting, but he and Snitker figure to be the leading candidates for that award as well. Despite winning the voting among his peers in the Sporting News voting last year, he finished 4th among the writers, behind Arizona’s Torey Lovullo, Los Angeles’ Dave Roberts, and Black.