Not voting for Red Sox manager John Farrell is one thing. Leaving both Farrell and Indians manager Terry Francona off your ballot completely is downright questionable.
Asuka Iinuma Brown of the Japanese wire service Jiji Press caused quite the stir with her American League Manager of the Year ballot. Brown, a Seattle-based member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), left both Farrell and Francona on the cutting room floor in favor of Athletics manager Bob Melvin, Rays manager Joe Maddon and Orioles manager Buck Showalter. As a result, Brown has been left to defend her decision, which has been viewed as controversial, to say the least.
Brown reasoned on WEEI’s Mut & Merloni on Wednesday that Farrell, who finished second in the voting, had a strong lineup and a high payroll to work with, thus diminishing his case for the award.
“I think Boston had so many premium players like [David] Ortiz, [Dustin] Pedroia. They have enough leadership to manage itself pretty well,” Brown said. “There’s no doubt Farrell is an outstanding manager in a competitive division. However, my first vote went to Bob Melvin. I highly respect those teams that [succeeded] on very limited budgets. So, my first two votes went to those managers — Melvin and Maddon.”
“Also the payroll was the reason I didn’t choose Boston,” Brown added. “I always highly respect those teams with limited budgets. Boston and maybe the New York Yankees, they have I think big payrolls. Probably managers have, if they correctly manage, they have resources, always. That’s why.”
Brown’s ballot wasn’t the only one that left off Farrell — ESPN.com’s Christina Kahrl also excluded the Red Sox skipper — but it was the only one that didn’t include either Farrell or Francona, who ended up winning the award with 16 first-place votes and 112 total points. Brown pointed to the Indians’ success against weaker opponents as her reason for not voting for Tito.
“My first two votes went to those managers from limited-budget teams. Then I thought that third vote should come from the division which is the toughest division in Major League Baseball,” Brown said. “The reason why I didn’t vote for Francona was that a number of their wins came from easier teams to beat, or struggling teams. So, that’s why my third vote went to Showalter, who maintained the same level as last season.”
At the end of the day, none of this really matters. Francona still won the award, and Farrell — who didn’t seem to mind the overall verdict — will be polishing a World Series ring. But the unique ballot still ruffled feathers, particularly on social media, and forced Brown to explain herself.
In her defense, Brown, a BBWAA member since 2011 who has been covering Major League Baseball since 2002, is sticking to her guns.
“That’s what I thought,” Brown said Wednesday. “They should be honored. My heart says my votes are correct.”
Some beg to differ.