Did Lou Piniella really have the best year of any National League manager?
There's no way he did, now that we know that Charlie Manuel led the Phillies to the world championship, while Piniella's Cubs made an embarrassing division series exit. If you vote now, Manuel wins, and it's probably unanimous.
But the voting for manager of the year, along with all the other BBWAA awards, is done at the end of the regular season. So Piniella is the NL Manager of the Year, and Joe Maddon (who would have won whenever the voting was done) is the AL Manager of the Year
Here's my question: Should we, the baseball writers who give these awards, be voting after the postseason is done?
Back in 1931, when the BBWAA first gave out the Most Valuable Player award, it made perfect sense to vote at the end of the regular season. The NL and AL MVPs could be determined then, because there were no NL or AL games left to play, only the World Series.
Now we're in a world of three-tier playoffs, and we're in a world where teams aren't always judged a success or failure based on the regular season alone. Managers get fired after losing playoff series.
Piniella isn't getting fired by the Cubs, and he deserves credit for leading them to the league's best (regular-season) record. But 2008 is never going to be looked at as a great year for the Cubs, because of the way it ended. Piniella wasn't at his best during the playoffs, when he told club officials he wanted to change the roster after losing Game 1, then called out Kosuke Fukudome after Game 2.
"Time heals a broken heart, I guess," Piniella said on the conference call to announce the award. "We had an outstanding year in Chicago, and won 97 games. Then in the postseason we went away rather quietly, in three games, which is quite disappointing. The postseason is a very fickle thing."
There's an argument for leaving the voting where it is. The postseason already has separate MVP awards (for the LCS and also for the World Series). Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee deserve the Cy Young Awards, and perhaps would have been penalized because their teams didn't make the playoffs.
I'm not sure the award voting should be moved, but on this day, when a manager who had a bad October is still the Manager of the Year, I'm not sure it shouldn't be.