Fans honor Tracy with TYIB Award

Fans honor Tracy with TYIB Award

DENVER -- Jim Tracy knew a turnaround was possible when he became the Rockies' manager on May 29. But Tracy understood that what he knew didn't matter.

Colorado was 18-28 when Tracy replaced Clint Hurdle. After the Rockies lost four of their first six following the change, Tracy was looking at the same passive offense that was a big factor in Hurdle's demise. He wasn't telling his team anything it hadn't heard before.

Yet, his point came across loud and clear. The Rockies finished 92-70 and made the playoffs. Now, the fans have spoken by rewarding Tracy with the 2009 This Year in Baseball Manager of the Year Award.

Once again, the fans voted in record numbers when given the chance to weigh in on the season's best players, plays and moments in the 2009 This Year in Baseball Awards, as more than 12 million votes were cast on Winners will be presented their trophies on field in 2010.

Tracy, who took multiple National League Manager of the year honors, earned 18.3 percent of the votes in TYIB, nosing out the Phillies' Charlie Manuel, who finished with 16.5 percent. Following them were the Yankees' Joe Girardi at 15.4 percent, the Twins' Ron Gardenhire at 12.9 percent, the Dodgers' Joe Torre at 7.9 percent and the Angels' Mike Scioscia, at 6.9 percent.

For the fans to log in and have their regard for Tracy heard, players had to listen to their manager.

"The credit goes to those guys, and I mean that sincerely," Tracy said. "They had a choice to make ... that either they believed in what I was saying -- that I really still felt like we could make something of the 2009 season -- or basically, 'Nice rah rah speech. Nice try, but it's not going to work.' "

The Rockies hit .249 in the first 46 games of the season, before the change. After the change, they hit .265. The The club also trimmed its strikeouts from one every 4.5 at-bats before the switch to one every 4.1 at-bats afterward.

What can't be seen in those numbers was the difference in the approach taken by the Rockies. Early on in the season, many at-bats went wasted when hitters kept the bat on their shoulder on good pitches, either early in counts or with two strikes.

Tracy made some tangible lineup changes, such as trusting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to be a lineup leader despite a poor start, going to Ian Stewart over Garrett Atkins at third base, and the combination of Carlos Gonzalez and Seth Smith in the outfield rather than Ryan Spilborghs, and settling on Clint Barmes at second base. But the biggest key was convincing players not to wait on the perfect pitch and let strikes sail past them.

"I saw a real passiveness to our approach in general in any facet of the game you want to talk about," Tracy said. "That's something that I spoke very strongly about -- that I wasn't going to be a real fan of that. I do not like to see passive play. It's not conducive to winning.

"The other observation that I made was that we were playing baseball not to lose, and when you play baseball not to lose, you're going to lose. Fear of failure is a bad thing to have within the walls of your clubhouse, and I strongly encourage them to go out there and play the game not fearing failure."

Tracy made his observations early. After that, he just stayed quiet and watched the type of baseball that led to a playoff berth, and to kudos for the manager from fans online.

"I got to a point where I felt like they understood that this is exactly what I want," Tracy said. "Then I moved out of the way and let them do their thing."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.