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March Mania

Twins’ Rocco Baldelli named American League manager of the year

Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli (5) watches his team take batting practice before the start of a spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays in February 2019. Jonathan Dyer / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is the American League manager of the year.

Baldelli edged New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone and Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash in a vote by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. In his first season as a manager, Baldelli led the Twins to a 101-61 record and an American League Central championship, the team’s first since 2010.

On the announcement show on MLB Network, Baldelli thanked his coaches and management, saying, “We needed everybody to come together, and then it really comes down to the players.”

The 101 wins are second in Twins history to the 1965 team that won 102 games lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. This year’s team was swept by the Yankees in the AL Division Series. He is just the seventh first-year manager in MLB history to lead his team to 100 or more wins.

“It was a pretty amazing year,” Baldelli said on MLB Network. “I don’t accept this award as an individual, I accept it as a member of the Minnesota Twins.”

Baldelli, 38, joined Billy Martin (1969), Bill Rigney (1970) and Ron Gardenhire (2002) as the fourth Minnesota skipper to lead the team to the postseason in his first season at the helm.

The award, voted on by 30 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, was first given in 1983.

The Twins held a piece of first in the Central race for all but two days until defending division champion Cleveland caught them the second week in August and took a half-game lead on Aug. 12. It lasted one day, and the Twins won the division by eight games.

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Mike Schildt was named the National League manager of the year.