When Buck Showalter put his Mets hat on his head for the first time in December 2021, his opening remarks expressed his intentions of putting a product on the field that would make fans proud.
After Showalter’s inaugural season leading the Mets, he helped shift the team’s identity from playoff outsiders to World Series contenders.
In the fifth leg of his managerial career, Showalter brought the ability to connect with his players and coaching staff, a drive to compete and a willingness to adapt to a new generation of baseball.
Showalter made the opening impression, helping the Mets finish 101-61 and become the first Mets manager in history to help the team pass the 100-win mark in his first season as a coach. On Tuesday night, Showalter was named National League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
He is the first Mets manager to win the award since it was first awarded in 1983.
“This is a well-deserved honor,” Mets owner Steve Cohen said in a statement. “There is no doubt that Buck was respected by the players and they played hard for him. He is one of the brightest minds in the game and he is building a winning culture.”
The Mets had a 24-win improvement under Showalter from the 2021 season when they finished 77-85, which was the second-best increase in Major League Baseball behind the Orioles.
This is the fourth time Showalter has been named Manager of the Year in his 21 seasons at the helm. He won the award three times with three separate teams—the Yankees (1994), Rangers (2004) and Orioles (2018)—in the American League. He joins Bobby Cox and Tony LaRosa as the only managers to win four Manager of the Year awards.
“Buck has spent every ounce of himself in making the Mets better on a daily basis,” Mets general manager Billy Epler said in a statement. “I’m glad the voters recognized what I’ve watched every single day this season.”
This is what led to Showalter receiving his first Mets Manager of the Year Award:
When Showalter first came to the club last spring, there were high expectations after a solid free agent transfer that brought Max Scherzer, Starling Mart and Chris Bassett, among others, on board.
But the 99-day lockout meant Showalter’s introduction to the team and his acclimatization period were a lot different than with the abbreviated spring training.
Then, on the eve of the season, came the news of Jacob Degrom’s extended absence after a strain reaction in his right shoulder. Despite long-term injuries to DeGrum and Scherzer in the first two months of the season, the Mets hit the ground running, winning nine of their opening 10 series and opening a 10.5-game lead in the NL East after two opening months.
Whenever misfortune occurred throughout the season, Showalter delivered his trademark line: “Nobody cares about your problems. They’re just glad they exist.”
Throughout the season, the Mets never lost more than three games in a row while compiling a career best seven-game winning streak in July and August along with three other six-game winning streaks. The NL East banner haunts baseball fans, as both the Mets and Braves won 101 games but the latter eventually clinched the crown with a tiebreaker.
Showalter is the fifth coach in MLB history to reach 100 wins with multiple clubs.
Despite hitting a major league record 112 times, the Mets often maintained the unwavering discipline Showalter had forged.
Showalter received the honor ahead of fellow National League finalists Brian Snicker of the Braves and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers.
Snitker had a high bar coming into the season after helping the Braves make Cinderella reach the franchise’s fourth World Series title in 2021. Last season, the Braves struggled into the playoffs with 88 wins, and this season, Snitker has helped the team reach 13 with an improvement and a grab. East National League title for the fifth consecutive season.
Snitker has helped several players achieve amazing leaps and bounds in 2021, including pitcher Kyle Wright who led the league with 21 wins, Rookie of the Year Michael Harris and rookie Spencer Strider, who both displayed star potential in their senior seasons.
Meanwhile, Roberts helped the Dodgers achieve the best record in baseball at 111-51. Those victories were matched by the 1954 Indians for the fourth-most wins in major league history.
While leading the Dodgers, Roberts also had among the highest expectations of any manager in baseball. The Dodgers have reached the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons, including nine division crowns and three trips to the World Series.
For Showalter, the success of the Mets has been an unknown for the past two decades. It was the first time the team had won 100 games since 1988 and the first time it had reached the playoffs since 2016.