Wednesday, September 7, 2011

SUMMER 2011 BBM AWARDS Manager of the Year: Daniel Fernandez, Veracruz Aguilas

The Aguilas had an entirely forgettable 2010 in which they went 39-66 (winning just 15 of 52 games in the second half), but Veracruz native Fernandez took the reins last winter and led the Red Eagles to a solid 54-49 record and a berth in the Southern Zone finals against the Tigres. Veracruz was probably best-known for the 1-2 power punch of Liga home run champ Jorge Guzman and Victor Diaz, who combined for 73 longballs, but it was pitching that was the main reason for the Aguilas’ 16-game improvement over their 2010 showing.

Fernandez cobbled together a pitching staff led by starters Joel Vargas (11-7/3.60) and Juan Acevedo (9-5/3.68) plus relievers Hector Navarro (3-3/4.25/15 saves) and Jailen Peguero (5-0/1.40/8 saves) into one with the Liga’s lowest ERA at 4.24. Granted, the starting rotation was thin after Vargas and Acevedo, which makes the Aguilas’ season all the more remarkable, given that their .273 team batting average was the worst in the circuit.

The 2011 season serves as sweet vindication for Fernandez, a former Mexico City Diablos Rojos star who was dumped unceremoniously by the Diablos two years ago, one season after leading them to their last LMB pennant in his first year as mananger and then to the league’s best regular season record in 2009. Fernandez then spent 16 games in 2010 on the Tabasco managerial merry-go-round before getting canned with a 5-11 record with the hapless Olmecas.