The name of the award, officially, is American League Manager of the Year. But really, it should be titled: "Manager who most exceeded expectations.''
Because that's what it has become.
Bob Melvin of the Oakland A's won the 2018 A.L. Manager of the Year award Tuesday, capturing 18 first-place votes to seven for the Red Sox' Alex Cora (and another five for Tampa Bay's Kevin Cash). In points total, Melvin finished with 121, followed by Cora at 79 and Cash at 57.
This marks the third time Melvin has won the honor, and to be clear, he was a deserving winner. Melvin took a team with the lowest payroll in the game ($66 million) and led them to a wild card spot.
Cora, though, set a franchise record by managing the Red Sox to 108 wins in his first head job anywhere. But Cora also inherited a team coming off back-to-back division titles and playoff appearances. And, importantly, the Red Sox had the game's biggest payroll, somewhere near $240 million, or, more than three times the payroll of the A's.
And that's a significant factor here. Some voters undoubtedly expected the Sox to reach the postseason a third straight season, aided and abetted by their enormous resources. The A's, meanwhile, were no one's choice to qualify for the playoffs, but did anyway.