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The Ringer names Lovullo midseason NL Manager of the Year

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo directs his team against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 6, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

This season, the D-backs and Rockies have surprised the baseball world by taking over the two NL Wild Card spots at the All-Star break.

Torey Lovullo and Bud Black, both in their first year with their respective team, are considered a toss up for NL Manager of the Year, according to Michael Baumann of The Ringer’s MLB midseason awards.

As Baumann notes, “Manager of the Year is frequently a proxy for Most Surprisingly Good Team.”

The D-backs and Rockies have been sure been surprising.

The Diamondbacks are on track to improve by 26 games in Lovullo’s first year as manager. It’s not a slam-dunk pick, because in the same division another first-year manager, Colorado’s Bud Black, has his team on track to improve on last year’s record by 18 games.

Baumann gives the award to Lovullo and it’s hard to blame him.

Halfway through the season, the D-backs have a run differential of +102, a drastic improvement from their -138 differential a year ago.

Lovullo has maneuvered his bullpen to the fifth best ERA in MLB at 3.45, in part to keeping Archie Bradley in the pen and sticking with Fernando Rodney through thick and thin.

Even with injuries to the starting rotation, they come out of the All-Star break with a 3.41 ERA, good for second in MLB.

Although Lovullo is not the only one to credit for the D-backs improvement–after all it is the players getting the hits and making the plays–it seems like he never fails to rotate in the right guys in the outfield or at catcher.

Catcher’s Chris Iannetta, Jeff Mathis and Chris Herrmann have batting averages of .227, .185 and .179 respectively, but have combined for 53 RBIs. If you consider them one player, given they’re a positional unit, their RBI total would be good for third on the team.

It seems like a new guy gets a big hit every game. That’s a credit to them, but also a credit to Lovullo for putting that player in a position to succeed.

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