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O's Hyde, Marlins' Schumaker voted top skippers

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The Baltimore Orioles’ Brandon Hyde was named the American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday, as the Miami Marlins’ Skip Schumaker won the National League award.

Under Hyde, the Orioles orchestrated one of the most impressive two-season turnarounds in MLB history. In 2021, they were — once again — the worst team in the majors. They had finished 52-110, the third time in four seasons they had lost at least 108 games, and the second time they had done so under Hyde. The rebuild was trudging along very slowly, and winning seasons still appeared to be a distant dream.

Then, in 2022, the Orioles improved to 83-79. Most experts predicted some regression in 2023, believing the Orioles had put together a fluke season. Instead, they won 101 games to finish with the best record in the AL, won the AL East title for the first time since 2014 and won 100 games for the first time since 1980.

“I’m super proud of our organization and how far we’ve come, exceeding expectations the last two years,” Hyde said. “We had a great season this year. It’s been quite a journey and a long road, but I’m super happy to be a Baltimore Oriole and how far we’ve come in five years.”

Hyde outpointed Bruce Bochy of the Texas Rangers and Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays to capture the award, picking up 27 of the 30 first-place votes. Voting factors in only regular-season results.

In the NL, Schumaker, a first-year manager, took top honors after the Marlins reached the postseason for the first time in a full season since 2003. In a split vote that saw six managers receive first-place votes, Schumaker tied with Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves with eight first-place votes while Craig Counsell, now the Chicago Cubs’ manager, finished second overall for his work with the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Marlins squeaked into the playoffs as a wild-card team in the final days of the regular season, finishing 84-78 thanks to an impressive 33-14 record in one-run games. That record allowed the Marlins to make the postseason despite a minus-57 run differential — the worst ever for a playoff team. Schumaker is the fourth Marlins manger to win the annual award after Jack McKeon in 2003, Joe Girardi in 2006 and Don Mattingly in 2020.

“I think we set a new standard in that clubhouse and now it’s time to protect the standard,” Schumaker said. “I told that to the guys after losing the series to a really good Phillies team and I just felt like the culture kind of changed. They know what winning looked like. They know what to expect now. After you get a taste of that postseason, you just want to get back there any way you can, and that’s the next step for our organization.”

The Orioles’ rebuild began in 2019 with the hiring of Mike Elias from the Houston Astros as general manager. He brought in Hyde, who had been the bench coach under Joe Maddon with the Cubs after previously serving as a minor league manager and bench coach with the Marlins. With a terrible major league roster, a farm system rated among the worst in the game at the time and the difficulties of navigating the AL East, Elias and Hyde knew the path to a division title wasn’t going to be easy.

“I don’t think you go into a season expecting to win 101 games,” Hyde said. “I was hoping we would build off last year. I was really encouraged by the second half we had last year. I felt like if we stayed healthy and with some young players coming into their own … that if we built off last year’s momentum, we could be better than last year.”

Indeed, the Orioles proved the critics wrong, improving by 18 games this season — through good defense, superb baserunning, an underrated offense and a great 1-2 punch in the bullpen (at least until closer Felix Bautista got injured) — and winning the division.

“We were dreaming of that when we started the rebuild,” Elias said at his end-of-season news conference. “It seemed impossible. You know, the people here pulled it together and I think it’s just a historic achievement. This group of players, regardless of where else they go in their careers and their lives, I hope the city of Baltimore remembers this group for kind of reminding the world this is Baltimore and we do baseball here.”

In those early years under Hyde, the Orioles focused on creating the right culture while hoping the wins would eventually follow once the farm system started producing better players, which it has. Adley Rutschman came up in 2022, Gunnar Henderson just won the AL Rookie of the Year Award, Kyle Bradish developed into a top starter this past season and rookie pitcher Grayson Rodriguez also looks like a potential rotation anchor.

With a young team and presumably flexibility to grow the payroll, the Orioles could be players in the free-agent market in the offseason. Hyde hopes some of those free agents understand what’s going on in Baltimore with a young, exciting team.

“People are going to see that they enjoyed playing here and that this is a fun team to be on, and we’re going to win,” Hyde said at the end of the season. “I would expect that we’re going to possibly acquire veteran players. That’s an important part of the clubhouse.”

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