By Sam Bush
Gabe Kapler, whom the Phillies fired in 2018 and and who guided the San Francisco Giants to a franchise-record 107 victories in just his second season, was named National League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Kapler received 28 of 30 first-place votes and joined Dusty Baker, a three-time winner, as the only men in Giants history to receive the award. Craig Counsell finished second in voting after leading the Milwaukee Brewers to the NL Central title. Mike Shildt was third — a month after he was fired over what St. Louis Cardinals president John Mozeliak described as philosophical differences. Counsell and Shildt received one first-place vote apiece.
Brian Snitker of the World Series champion Atlanta Braves and Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers were the other managers to receive votes.
Bruce Bochy, the legendary Giants manager who guided the franchise to three World Series championships, announced Kapler as the winner on MLB Network. Kapler replaced Bochy after the 2019 season, but he never aspired to follow in his footsteps — simply because he never believed he could.
“My goal is obviously to support the players and what their goals are, create an environment that’s helpful for players to grow and develop and for staff members to also grow and develop,” Kapler said. “And so those things are happening as my main focus, rather than what is truly impossible, which is to replace someone as successful and legendary as Bruce.”
The Giants went into 2021 with the sport’s second-oldest roster and 40-1 odds of winning the NL West, but Kapler — bolstered by a robust, forward-thinking coaching staff and a savvy front office led by Farhan Zaidi — presided over a team that blew past expectations, holding off the star-laden Dodgers to claim its first division title in nine years. Under Kapler, the Giants finished the regular season with the second-best run-differential, the fourth-highest OPS and the second-lowest ERA.