Mike Shildt, despite finishing the first half at 44-46, took the St. Louis Cardinals to the playoffs after ending the regular season with a 90-72 record.
That means his team had a 46-26 second half record, one of the very best in baseball.
The second half and the stretch run included a marvelous 17-game winning streak that helped them go from an afterthought to leapfrogging other teams in the Wild Card race, such as the Cincinnati Reds and the San Diego Padres.
At the end of the day, they took the second Wild Card spot led by Shildt.
The 90-win Cardinals gave the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers a run for their money in the National League Wild Card game, but lost against a top squad and their season ended just like that.
The overall positive year in St. Louis apparently wasn’t enough for the front office, as the Cards, on October 4, decided to terminate Shildt’s contract and look for a new manager.
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak cited “differences in philosophy” with Shildt as the reason behind the unexpected dismissal.
Shildt is currently looking for a new team, and he will carefully choose his options.
He Deserves A Long Look
However, and despite his firing from the Cardinals, Shildt has a strong case to be selected as the NL Manager of the Year in 2021.
NL Manager of the Year finalists:
– Craig Counsell
– Gabe Kapler
– Mike Shildt pic.twitter.com/VTPTZC1q2r
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) November 9, 2021
The winner of the prestigious award will be announced on November 16.
Shildt, who took home the award back in 2019 with these same Cardinals, has a strong case to win his second one this time around.
First, he helped guide the Cardinals to the promised land with a rotation of veteran pitchers, many of which were deemed not good enough to remain with their former teams and were traded (like Jon Lester and J.A. Happ, for example).
39-year-old right-hander Adam Wainwright (3.05 ERA in 206.1 innings) was the star of the rotation, and Shildt stuck with him despite his age and recent (2018 and 2019) struggles, giving him a huge workload.
He confidently slotted Happ and Lester to the rotation, and they pitched admirably.
A Successful Season Under His Watch
His philosophy and approach toward baseball may not align with the organization as a whole, but there is no denying that he made a positive impact on the roster and its chances.
For 17 games in September, the month in which everybody is playing with their season on the line, Shildt’s Cardinals were invincible.
Kapler may be the favorite, and deservedly so.
He also had a fantastic, historic season, better than Shildt and the Cardinals, in fact.
But there is an argument to be made that much of the Giants’ success should be attributed to their phenomenal player development staff, not just to Kapler.
Mike Shildt for Manager of the Year
— Jack Bryant… (@John_PG_) November 9, 2021
In any case, Shildt should be a strong candidate for the Manager of the Year award, even if his competition is elite.