July 3, 2022

Washington Nationals’ Matt Williams Wins Sporting News Manager Of The Year

On Tuesday afternoon, Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams hauled in his first major award at the helm of a MLB franchise.

As voted on by the National League managers, Sporting News awarded the first-year skipper the NL Manager of the Year Award. Receiving four first place votes, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny got second (2) and the Miami Marlins Mike Redmond placed third (1).

The Los Angeles Angels Mike Sciosia edged Baltimore’s Buck Showalter by one vote to take home the prize in the American League.

This honor shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for Williams. Taking over a franchise that finished 86-76 and 10 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East in 2013, he turned them around to go 96-66 and win the division by 17 games, the widest margin by any division winner in 2014.

For the second time in three years, Washington headed to the playoffs and did so with the NL’s best record, only to be eliminated by the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS.

The point remains, however, that they got there and Williams, in his first year, led the way. While he was certainly handed the keys to a cadillac, something a first-year manager rarely gets, he had to navigate some rough waters along the way.

With his Opening Day roster playing a mere seven innings together before losing catcher Wilson Ramos to an injury, it began a string of bad luck for the Nationals on the injury front. Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister and Ryan Zimmerman all missed time with some sort of injury in the first half of the season.

As key players sat out, the Nationals stayed strong. Thanks to the help of some young players stepping up and filling voids, Williams’ club went an even 27-27 from March through May, setting the stage for what would see them set a torrent pace in the second half of the year.

Winning 19 games in the final two months, Washington went 45-24 in the second half of the year to clinch the division, the National League and a spot in the playoffs. After such a successful campaign that saw many bumps in the road, it’s clear why the managers around the league voted him the best.

When you watched him in the dugout and after the game, his demeanor was always calm and even-keeled. Rarely letting his emotions get the better of him, Williams’ managing style is certainly that of giving freedom to the players he manages.

“I think more than anything, he kind of stayed out of our way and let us play,” Jayson Werth told The Washington Post (via Sporting News). “He pushed all the right buttons and pulled all the right strings. He did a good job – first-year manager. He was given a good team, though, and he didn’t screw it up.”

Williams joins Davey Johnson (2012) as the only two Nationals managers to win the Sporting News’ award since the club moved to D.C. in 2005.

About Brian Skinnell

Brian Skinnell is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Nationals and college football. He is a born-and-raised follower of Washington, D.C. sports, “The” Ohio State Buckeyes and auto racing. A graduate of Shepherd University in December of 2014, he has a degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies with a Concentration in Sports Communications. Prior to joining District Sports Page (for his second stint), he spent time with Rant Sports, Yahoo Sports and the Washington Redskins. For his day job, he is an Editor for Team Velocity Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_Skinnell.

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