This is the first of five post season awards that I will be voting on as a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.
The first BBA Award is the Connie Mack Award, given annually to the best manager in big league baseball, as voted by the BBA members.
This was a tough call for me, and it came down to the final day of the regular season.
In early September the Tampa Bay Rays were 9.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the Wild Card spot in the American League playoffs.
The Rays had basically played the entire season behind the Red Sox, and the A.L. East Division Champion New York Yankees.
The Rays lost several key players off their playoff team from a year ago, including LF Carl Crawford, who signed a huge free agent contract to play in Boston, 1B Carlos Pena(to the Cubs)and relievers Joaquin Benoit(to Detroit) and Rafael Soriano( to Yankees).
In addition, the Rays lost Manny Ramirez, who, in the first week of the season, was suspended 100 games by Major League Baseball, for violating the leagues substance abuse policy.
Ramirez, rather than sit 100 games, retired from baseball.
All along the Rays manager, Joe Maddon, kept the club scratching and clawing, and, led by a terrific starting pitching staff and timely hitting from nearly everyone on the bench, Maddon and the Rays caught the slumping BoSox, then passed Boston for the final playoff spot on the final day of the 2011 season.
Because of that final push, my vote for the Connie Mack Manager of the Year goes to Joe Maddon.
Maddon is very good on Twitter, and can be found here... @RaysJoeMaddon
Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers receives my second place vote.
Leyland guided the Tigers to their first ever A.L. Central Division title, the clubs first division crown since the Tigers won the A.L. East in 1987.
The Tigers, who were 81-81 in 2010, had a tremendous second half in 2011, winning 95 games, and winning the division by 15 games over 2nd place Cleveland.
Ron Washington, the manager of the Texas Rangers, receives my 3rd place vote.
Washington led the Rangers to their 2nd straight A.L. West crown, and the defending American League champions held off a strong push from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in September.
If the Rays had lost the Wild Card, and Boston had won, my ballot would have been...1. Leyland, 2. Maddon, 3. Washington.
Up next, my National League picks for the BBA Connie Mack Award