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D-backs’ Lovullo earns NL Manager of the Year

(AP Photo/Matt York)
LISTEN: Torey Lovullo, D-backs' Manager & 2017 NL Manager of the Year

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo earned the National League Manager of the Year award Tuesday by beating out Bud Black of the Colorado Rockies and Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers to the surprise of few in the Valley.

“Without ownership as strong as it is, without the front office and the relationship I have with them and without the coaches and the players, I’m not sitting here,” Lovullo said.

The D-backs’ 24-win improvement was best in the NL and second-best in all of Major League Baseball behind only the Minnesota Twins, who improved their record by 26 wins.

“It was an incredible year and these are the types of things and the time of the year were you stop and slow things down and reflect on it,” Lovullo told Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “I guess what it means is that we were a pretty good team.”

This was Lovullo’s first season as manager of the Diamondbacks, leading the team to a 93-69 record and a win over the Rockies in the NL Wild Card. After coaching stints with the Blue Jays and Red Sox, his 2017 season with the Diamondbacks was his first crack at being a manager in the MLB.

Lovullo guided the D-backs to their first postseason appearance since 2011 while handicapped by the lowest payroll of any playoff team in either league.

The award is also a reflection of the improvement from many young talents on the Diamondbacks’ roster including Jake Lamb and Chris Owings, who both posted career highs in home runs and RBI this season.

Meanwhile, starting pitchers Robbie Ray and Zack Godley posted the best seasons of their career in terms of wins, strikeouts and WHIP.

“I had a lot of special people that were walking right with me side by side on a daily basis to help me do this,” Lovullo said. “The players went out and performed that’s the bottom line. The coaches coached, the front office was fantastic and it was just a very, very special group, a very cohesive group.”

Lovullo and the front office’s best decision may have been to move relief pitcher Archie Bradley out of the starting rotation and into the bullpen. The 27-year-old Bradley posted career-best numbers in ERA, strikeouts per nine innings, walks per nine innings, WHIP and batting average against.

The accolade also rewards Lovullo’s managing of the catcher position. After the team let go of catcher Welington Castillo, who appeared in 113 games a year ago for the Diamondbacks, it was Lovullo’s job to juggle the lineup with two new catchers along with returnee Chris Herrmann.

Veterans Chris Iannetta and Jeff Mathis filled in admirably for Castillo while Herrmann also played a pivotal role as Lovullo prioritized the importance of pitching staff management and defense from the catcher position.

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