By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Alex Cora losing out on AL Manager of the Year is not a big deal.
But if you want to make it a big deal, aim your anger at Nobuhiro Saito of the Nikkan Sports News.
Cora came in second place to Athletics manager Bob Melvin, who won 97 games with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. There’s no reason for Cora to hang his head in defeat, as Melvin did an exceptional job in Oakland. Cora also just has to take a look at the World Series trophy he brought to Boston if he needs a little pick-me-up.
Per usual, most voters held Boston’s payroll, the highest in all of baseball, against Cora. The Red Sox skipper received only seven first-place votes to Melvin’s 17, while snagging 11 second- and third-place votes each (see full results here).
Do some quick math (which requires all your fingers and toes and then some) and you’ll notice those numbers only add up to 29, meaning someone left Cora off their ballot. That someone was Saito, who lists himself as a “Freelance journalist & sports consultant” in California on his LinkedIn account. A quick google search of his name, however, does not bring up any articles from the writer.
But he has a vote for Manager of the Year, and none of them went to Cora. He gave Melvin his first-place vote (acceptable) and Houston manager A.J. Hinch his second-place vote (kinda-sorta acceptable).
Sitting in third on Saito’s ballot? Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
Boone’s Yankees won 100 games during the regular season, but you’d have to search long and hard to find anyone who covers (or follows) the Yankees that believed Boone should have been in the Manager of the Year conversation — let alone on a ballot over Cora. Both New York writers who voted for the award — Bryan Hoch of MLB.com and Pete Caldera of the Bergen Record — had Cora winning with Melvin second, followed by Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash. Only one other writer had Boone on his ballot, David Skretta of the Associated Press, who had the Yanks skipper in third place. He voted for Cora to win the award.
This brings back flashbacks of the 1999 MVP award, when Pedro Martinez should have taken home the honors after an otherworldly season on the mound. The only thing that kept Pedro from winning both the AL Cy Young and MVP award that year was New York Posts writer George King leaving him off his MVP ballot. Instead, Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez took home the hardware.
If it makes you feel any better about this situation, Cora wouldn’t have overtaken Melvin even if Saito had given him a third-place vote (Melvin finished with 121 points to Cora’s 79). And Saito not having Cash, who led the Rays to 90 wins while playing in the AL East with the powerhouse Red Sox and Yankees, on his ballot is really a bigger offense than not including Cora.
But to have Boone over Cora is a bewildering choice to say the least, one that Saito will likely be lampooned for all offseason.