Carson City’s Williams NL Manager of the Year
NEW YORK — Matt Williams was chosen NL Manager of the Year after guiding the Washington Nationals to the league-best 96 wins in his first season on the job.
Williams got 18 first-place votes and 109 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced Tuesday.
Williams became the fourth manager to win in his first year. Joe Girardi had been the most recent to do it, with the Marlins in 2006.
Pittsburgh’s Clint Hurdle, who earned the NL honor last year, was second with eight first-place votes and 80 points. Bruce Bochy of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants was third with three firsts and 30 points.
Miami’s Mike Redmond also got a first-place vote and finished fifth, behind St. Louis’ Mike Matheny.
Voting was completed before the start of the postseason.
The AL Manager of the Year was to be announced later Tuesday.
A hard-nosed player and five-time All-Star over 17 seasons, Williams was coaching third base for the Arizona when he was hired by Washington.
“Not having the experience of being there before, but you can rely on folks,” he said.
Williams credited his players for the award, saying, “These guys made my transition easy.”
The Nationals had hoped to contend for the World Series title in 2013 under Davey Johnson, and came into this season with very high expectations. Some people predicted they would take the crown — that can often dampen a manager’s chances of winning this award.
Williams stressed fundamentals from the start of spring training, and worked on creative defensive alignments. His biggest stamp might’ve come in late April when he benched young star Bryce Harper in the middle of a game for failing to run out a grounder.
The 48-year-old Williams kept the Nationals on track despite injuries to Doug Fister, Ryan Zimmerman and several other stars, and Washington won the NL East by a whopping 17 games, the biggest margin in the majors.
“It’s a great moment for the guys,” he said. “It takes a village.”
The Nationals lost to the Giants in four games in the NL Division Series.
Hal Lanier (Houston, 1986) and Dusty Baker (San Francisco, 1993) also won Manager of the Year awards in their first seasons.