As announced Tuesday evening by Major League Baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Clint Hurdle was voted as the 2013 National League manager of the year.
Hurdle, who just completed his third year with the Pirates, beat out the Dodgers’ Don Mattingly and Atlanta’s Fredi Gonzalez for the honor. The 56-year-old Hurdle also won the Sporting News’ NL manager of the year last month.
Under the guidance of Hurdle, the Pirates posted a 94-68 record and earned the first playoff berth in 21 years for the franchise. Hurdle took the role following Pittsburgh’s 105-loss season in 2010, and the club improved by 15 wins in his first year and seven more in 2012. Late-season collapses marred the Pirates’ first two years under Hurdle, but this year the Bucs held it together all the way to the end.
“On behalf of the Pirates, I will accept it,” Hurdle told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel. “I will break it off into little pieces for everyone to share.
Leading the Pirates out of two decades of losing was quite the feat, and Hurdle’s accomplishments clearly impressed the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, who voted on the award. Hurdle received 25 of the 30 first-place votes, with the other five being second-place tallies.
A first-round pick in the 1975 MLB Draft, Hurdle made his big-league managing debut in 2002 with Colorado. He eventually led the Rockies to a wild-card berth and a spot in the World Series, but was fired in 2009. Hurdle served as hitting coach for the Texas Rangers before jumping back on the saddle in Pittsburgh.
This is the second time since the award’s genesis in 1983 that a Pirates skipper has won it. Jim Leyland picked up the trophy in 1992, coincidentally the last time Pittsburgh made the postseason until this fall.
“I’m humbled,” Hurdle told Biertempfel. “I’m grateful for the organization. I think this is another sign of tangible evidence of our success.”
A man known for his gregarious personality and positive manner, Hurdle was a vast departure from previous Pirates managers like John Russell and Jim Tracy. This year, he embraced new advanced data from the front office that made Pittsburgh one of the most aggressive MLB teams in defensive shifts, an aspect which greatly contributed to the Bucs’ success.
But no matter how he did it, Hurdle deserves as many accolades as anyone else in the Pirates organization. Thanks to him and the rest of the 2013 Bucs, a pall has been lifted from Pittsburgh pro baseball.