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A's surge to division title nets Melvin AL MOY

A's surge to division title nets Melvin AL MOY

A's surge to division title nets Melvin AL MOY
OAKLAND -- His club's biggest cheerleader this year, A's manager Bob Melvin received deserving applause of his own on Tuesday.

After guiding a group of rookies and castoffs to a magical 94-win season and American League West title, Melvin was voted American League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, edging out Baltimore's Buck Showalter.

2012 AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR VOTING
Voting results for AL Manager of the Year, conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America
Manager Team 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Bob Melvin Athletics 16 12 0 116
Buck Showalter Orioles 12 16 0 108
Robin Ventura White Sox 0 0 12 12
Joe Maddon Rays 0 0 7 7
Joe Girardi Yankees 0 0 5 5
Jim Leyland Tigers 0 0 2 2
Ron Washington Rangers 0 0 2 2
Both managers were voted first or second on all 28 ballots, resulting in the fourth-tightest race in the award's history. Melvin received 16 first-place votes and 12 second-place ones for a total of 116 points, while Showalter garnered 108 after landing 12 votes for first place and 16 for second. White Sox manager Robin Ventura finished third in the voting.
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"Buck did such a great job this year and Robin, for a first-year guy, as well, so I was surprised by this, but for me it's more of a validation for our organization having a great year more than anything," Melvin said. "Somebody has to get these awards, and I'm lucky enough to be in the position for it, but it was a concerted effort from everybody in our organization to accomplish what we did this year in a year that probably not a whole lot was expected of us."

For the always humble Melvin, who appeared genuinely shocked when hearing the results on MLB Network, this is his second such award, having won the National League honor in 2007 with the D-backs. He is the sixth manager to win the award in both leagues, joining Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella and this year's NL winner, Davey Johnson, and is the second to do so in Oakland, with La Russa having taken home the hardware twice while with the A's, in 1988 and 1992.

"I get a little uncomfortable, really, with individual accolades, but I think the one thing I did think about ahead of time is that if I was fortunate enough to win, I'd have done it in both leagues," Melvin acknowledged. "There are obviously some different variables to managing in both leagues, and that's probably the one thing that felt special, other than being in Oakland and in my hometown, the opportunity that you could potentially do it in both leagues. I don't think too many people have done that."

Even fewer have seemingly done what Melvin did with his ballclub, made of up of the AL's lowest payroll, in baseball's toughest division.

In just his first full season at the helm in Oakland, after taking over the reins in June 2011, the 51-year-old Melvin steered the A's to their first playoff appearance since 2006, guiding the club -- once predicted by many to rack up as many as 100 losses -- through a remarkable stretch run that culminated in a Game 5 loss to the Tigers in the AL Division Series.

Melvin's A's, who faced a 13-game deficit to Texas on June 30, became only the fifth team in history to win a division or pennant after trailing by as many or more games. Moreover, by winning their last six games of the regular season to clinch the division title on the season's final day, the A's became the first team to overcome a five-game deficit with as many as nine games remaining to win a division or pennant.

And it wasn't just the total of wins -- 20 more than the A's captured last year -- that proved impressive but how they were tallied, with Oakland thriving on dramatics and racking up 14 walk-off victories.

All the while, Melvin supported an all-rookie starting rotation at points -- rookies started 101 games -- and crafted more than 130 different lineups that featured as many as five platoons at a time, with several players playing out of their positions to accommodate the team's needs.

By season's end, a catcher (Josh Donaldson) was playing third base, an outfielder (Brandon Moss) was manning first, and a shortstop (Cliff Pennington) had taken over second base duties.

It was his confidence in his entire roster, along with the strong communication ties he formed with those it encompassed, that earned him much respect in the clubhouse.

"He's deserving of this, the way he managed not only a great group of coaches but a talented group of baseball players," starter Jarrod Parker said Tuesday. "The belief he instilled in us from the first day of Spring Training throughout the season was a key factor in the year we had as a team."

"He does a great job of mixing everyone together and making everyone feel like they're always going to be successful," said A's bench coach Chip Hale. "I think he's gotten the most out of players who, in the past, haven't performed that well. He knows guys' personalities."

And it's Melvin's that has led to a revitalized clubhouse in Oakland.

"I would have voted for Bob," Showalter said. "He was deserving and what a great year they had."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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