Amid the Orioles’ poor start to the 2022 season, manager Brandon Hyde expressed confidence not only in the club’s future, but his place in it.
“I’m in it for the long haul,” Hyde told the Baltimore Sun last April. “I’ll be there when we win.”
At that point, entering his fourth season in charge of the Baltimore baseball team, Hyde possessed one of the five worst winning percentages of any manager in major league history. First hired as a manager before the 2019 season to guide the club through its rebuild, Hyde had overseen as many campaigns with more than 100 losses as any previous Orioles manager during the franchise’s first 65 years in Baltimore.
On Tuesday night, a little more than a year and a half after his declaration, Hyde was named the 2023 American League Manager of the Year. In his fifth season at the helm, the Orioles won 101 games, winning the AL East and owning the best record in the league. Hyde, 50, joins Frank Robinson (1989), Davey Johnson (1997) and Buck Showalter (2014) as Baltimore managers who have won the honor since its introduction in 1983. Hyde joins Showalter and seven others as managers who won the award after never playing in the major leagues.
“I’m just proud of what we’ve accomplished so far,” Hyde said Tuesday. “It’s certainly not an individual award. I don’t see it like that at all. I look at it as a team award and an award for the entire coaching staff, really an organizational award for what we’ve done here in five years.
He received 27 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and came in second in the other three ballots. Bruce Bochy of Texas received the remaining first-place votes and finished second to Kevin Cash of Tampa Bay. Miami Marlins manager Skip Schumaker won the National League award.
Joe Maddon, the former Chicago Cubs manager whom Hyde considers a mentor after spending three years on his coaching staff before coming to Baltimore, announced Hyde as the winner on MLB Network.
With infielder Gunnar Henderson named AL Rookie of the Year on Monday, 2023 marks the third season in Orioles history the team has had multiple winners of the BBWAA’s annual awards. Robinson’s honor in 1989 came when reliever Gregg Olson was the AL Rookie of the Year, which outfielder Al Bumbry won in 1973 when Jim Palmer was the recipient of the AL Cy Young Award.
The club’s performance this season placed Hyde alongside Hall of Famer Earl Weaver as the only managers to lead the Orioles to a 100-win season. The campaign marked the second in a row in which Baltimore far exceeded outside expectations.
In one of Mike Elias’ first moves as executive vice president and general manager of the Orioles after being hired five years ago this month, he hired Hyde, then Maddon’s bench coach, as as Baltimore’s 20th manager. Hyde recalled Tuesday that during the interview process and during their first spring practice together, Elias emphasized to Hyde and his coaching staff that they would not be judged on wins and losses, given that much more was expected of the latter.
The Orioles went 54-108 in 2019 and 25-35 in the shortened 2020 campaign before a disastrous 2021 season in which they lost 110 games, including 19 in a row at one point.
“During those years, you just didn’t know it,” Hyde said. “I was convinced we were going to turn things around, but you have a hard time seeing when, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, honestly.”
More trouble was expected in 2022, with Baltimore expected to be among the worst teams in the majors, as it had been in Hyde’s first three seasons. About a month after Hyde said he would lead Baltimore as it moved from rebuilding to competing, the Orioles promoted top prospect Adley Rutschman, and the winning began soon after. They finished 2022 with an 83-79 record, the best of any AL team that missed the playoffs. This arrival made Hyde the runner-up in AL Manager of the Year voting, although he won the honor from Sporting News, which was voted on by his fellow managers.
Despite the Orioles’ stellar success, sportsbooks and projection systems expected regression in 2023. They instead won baseball’s best division, going the entire regular season without being swept. Under Hyde, Baltimore set an AL record for most consecutive multi-game series with at least one victory. The Orioles posted a winning record for every full month for the first time since 1983, when they last won the World Series.
“Honestly, we were disrespected at the beginning of this year,” Hyde said hours before the Orioles clinched their first playoff berth since 2016. “Just where we were from the projections, people smart people thinking they know what the records will be in the end. of the year, casinos, et cetera. I thought we were underestimated. Everyone thought we were going to have a setback this year. I wanted our players to be a little offended by that, the guys who were here last year. I thought that wasn’t accurate.
“I thought we were going to be better than everyone thought.”
As he was in April 2022, Hyde was right. The Orioles entered the year with a core composed of players who endured the rebuild alongside Hyde and the young talents developed during it. With only a handful of relatively cheap veterans, the Orioles front office, as it did throughout Hyde’s tenure, handed him an inexperienced roster built with one of the lowest payrolls in the majors.
He helped make them a division champion. Despite their frugality, the Orioles roster featured depth on both sides of the ball, with Hyde deftly deploying his bench and bullpen throughout the year. Nearly half of the Orioles’ victories came in games decided by two runs or fewer, and Baltimore’s .662 winning percentage in such games was 100 points higher than that of the second-best club in the AL. They are tied for the major league lead in comeback wins.
Many players have credited Hyde for his role in the clubhouse culture that fueled this success. When asked Tuesday what trait allowed him to survive Baltimore’s rebuild, Hyde was tempted to say patience before admitting: “I’ve been guilty many nights of not being patient.” » Instead, he opted for a quality referenced by many of his players throughout the season: consistency.
“I have a ton of respect for him,” said first baseman Ryan O’Hearn, one of the few players who accepted and thrived in part-time roles under Hyde. “I think that’s a common denominator in the locker room is you have guys that go out there and go wild for him.”
Players also vouched for him to win Manager of the Year in 2022, but the award went to Terry Francona after leading the Cleveland Guardians to the AL Central title. Hyde’s Orioles won their division in 2023, helping him fend off Bochy, Cash and others in the BBWAA vote, which took place before the playoffs.
In it, Bochy’s Rangers swept Hyde and the Orioles in the AL Division Series en route to winning the World Series. Days after Baltimore’s elimination, the possibility of this award brought little comfort to Hyde.
“It’s nice,” Hyde said. “I’m still pissed, to be honest with you.
“I don’t like losing, and I don’t like losing like that,” he later added. “I wanted our players to jump again. It’s a really cool group. You didn’t want to have to get on the plane after something like that. You wanted to see them continue to play. It is essential. We didn’t want the season to end.
In a few months, another will begin. Hyde will spend it as the reigning AL Manager of the Year. But he and his players are looking for other materials.
“We want to take the next step,” Hyde said. “I think they’re going to come in with a bit of a chip on their shoulder with the way things ended. I know I am.”