Counsell finishes 4th in Manager of Year race

Counsell finishes 4th in Manager of Year race

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell garnered three first-place votes on the way to finishing fourth in balloting for the National League Manager of the Year Award, which went to Torey Lovullo of the D-backs.

Counsell received three first-place votes, four second-place votes and six third-place votes for 33 points in the Baseball Writers' Association of America's scoring system. Lovullo led the way with 18 first-place votes and 111 points, followed by the Dodgers' Dave Roberts (55 points) and the Rockies' Bud Black (43 points).

There was one other first-place vote for Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who finished fifth.

NL Manager of the Year voting
Torey Lovullo, ARI 18 5 6 111
Dave Roberts, LAD 5 8 6 55
Bud Black, COL 3 6 10 43
Craig Counsell, MIL 3 4 6 33
Dusty Baker, WSH 1 6 2 25
Joe Maddon, CHC   1   3
Name, team 1st 2nd 3rd Pts

Counsell's case was discussed on the MLB Network last week after the finalists were revealed, with Ken Rosenthal saying that Counsell likely was "finalist 3A or 4, and, for some, higher than that." Rosenthal cast one of the three first-place votes for Counsell; the others were from MLB.com's Mark Bowman and AJ Cassavell.

The Brewers moved Counsell from the front office to the manager's office in May 2015, marking the start of a top-down rebuild of the organization expected to span multiple years. But in his second full season at the helm (and the second full season under general manager David Stearns), the Brewers took a significant step forward by going 86-76 and remaining in postseason contention until the penultimate day of the regular season.

It marked a 13-win improvement over Counsell's first full season in 2016.

"If you look at what he's done with this group of players, not their talent but their inexperience, and how he gets them to play every day," Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said, "he should be considered."

The BBWAA has handed out hardware to a manager in each league since 1983, and a Brewers skipper has yet to win the award.

Ron Roenicke was the most recent Brewers manager to finish in the top three, receiving three first-place votes while finishing as runner-up to D-backs manager Kirk Gibson in 2011. Phil Garner (second in 1992 and third in '97 in the American League Manager of the Year Award race) and Tom Trebelhorn (second in '87) also finished in the top three.

Counsell wraps up 2017 season

Regardless of where Counsell, 47, finished, his two broad themes were heard load and clear by his players and staff. The first is a focus on run prevention -- viewing pitchers and defense as a unit rather than separate entities. That was a strength of the Brewers in 2017, when they finished ninth in the Major Leagues with a 4.00 ERA despite losing two-fifths of their Opening Day starting rotation (Junior Guerra and Wily Peralta) and their closer (Neftali Feliz) to ineffectiveness.

The other message was connectedness. That concept was at the core of Counsell's first full-squad address in Spring Training, when he set the stage for the Brewers' surprising season.

"We have to continue to keep raising our standards of what we expect," Counsell said then. "I give the players a lot of credit, because, to me, they've set the standards. They're pushing the standards to a higher place. …

"We're going to have high standards. I think we have to. And I don't think it's fair to put limits on any of this stuff. Why should you, man? Every season is sacred. Every season is special and new. I don't feel like that group deserves that at all; there's no limits on this."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.