In his first year with the Miami Marlins, Skip Schumaker edged out fellow finalists Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves and Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers to win the 2023 NL Manager of the Year award. The rookie manager got eight first-place votes and appeared on 24 of the 30 total ballots from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
“This is a staff award,” Schumaker told media after the announcement was made. “My bench coach made me look really good. Had a great hitting coach, (Mel Stottlemyre Jr.) was amazing with all the young pitchers that came up … so I owe everybody a lot. I really do.”
Schumaker said that belief in his staff is what made him realize he had turned the corner into being a good manager.
“I think it started with me starting to trust my coaches more and not micromanaging everything and trying to do everything,” Schumaker said. “I hired coaches to do a job and they were really good at it. And I didn’t have to look over their shoulder for every single move or question everything they did. I hired them for a reason.”
Schumaker is now the fourth Marlins manager to receive this honor, joining Jack McKeon (2003), Joe Girardi (2006), and Don Mattingly (2020).
A big reason why Schumaker won this award is, presumably, what kind of team he inherited from day one. At the start of spring training, the roster and projected lineup looked similar to the group that won just 69 games the year prior. With the help of a hot first half that saw them enter the All-Star break 14 games above .500 and career-best seasons from a few players, the Marlins won 84 games and made it back to the postseason in a 162-game season for the first time since 2003.
The 15-game jump from 2022-23 is tied for the biggest positive win swing in Marlins history, not including strike-shortened seasons, matching the 1999-00 pivot. Those teams went 64-98 in 1999 and 79-82 in 2000.
There were times where Schumaker’s Manager of the Year campaign—and the season as a whole—was in doubt. The Marlins lost eight games in a row coming out of the All-Star break and spiraled into a prolonged cold streak that saw them dip to one game below .500 on Aug. 30 and briefly fall out of the playoff picture.
Former general manager Kim Ng bolstered Schumaker’s roster down the stretch with key trade deadline acquisitions in Josh Bell and Jake Burger. The Marlins got themselves back into it in September with sweeps against division winners Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. They took two of three against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park later in the month to clinch a playoff spot.
Due to lack of pitching depth stemming from injuries to Sandy Alcantara and an innings limit on Eury Perez, Schumaker had to navigate the team through a playoff race while going with two bullpen games per week.
But if you really want a glimpse into how much Schumaker exemplifies the culture he instilled in his players in his first year in Miami, go back to 24 hours before the pivotal Pirates series started.
Leading 2-1 in the top of the ninth against the New York Mets at Citi Field on Sept. 28, rain began to fall and set the game into a 3-hour, 17-minute delay. After the grounds crew started pulling the tarp off the infield shortly after midnight, Schumaker went onto the field to help them pull it off even further.
The tarp was put back on, and the game was finally suspended with their game in Pittsburgh scheduled to start less than 20 hours later.
“He kind of embodies what this team is,” Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings said to the media the following day. “You know, resilient, tough. And we draw a lot from the vibes he gives off. We get a lot of our edge from him and we just feed off of it. I think that’s why we’re in the position that we’re in.”
Even as Schumaker’s players accepted their individual accolades after the season ended, they couldn’t help but give their manager credit for their successes.
“He’s amazing,” Marlins second baseman Luis Arraez said after winning the National League’s Silver Slugger Award a few days ago. “Skip’s the best. He gave me the opportunity to talk with him every day and to my teammates. He deserves it. We went to the playoffs because of him. He’s the man.”