Williams: AL Mgr. Of The Year

Jimy Williams won the American League Manager of the Year award today after leading the Boston Red Sox into the playoffs despite the loss of Mo Vaughn.

Williams received 20 of 28 first-place votes and five seconds for 115 points from the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is a team award," Williams said. "It's pretty special."

Oakland's Art Howe was second for keeping the Athletics in contention until September despite a $25.2 million payroll, 24th among the 30 major league teams. He got five firsts, 19 seconds and three thirds for 85 points.

Joe Torre of the World Series champion New York Yankees, last year's winner, was third with 21 points.

Johnny Oates of the Texas Rangers finished fourth with one first place vote and 18 points. Mike Hargrove, fired by the Cleveland Indians after losing to Boston in the playoffs, finished fifth with two firsts and 13 points. He will manage Baltimore next season.

Boston had been expected to struggle after Vaughn left as a free agent and signed with the Anaheim Angels.

"Certainly Mo was an integral part of this ballclub in the past years, but wasn't with our team," Williams said. "He was with another team, and you have to move on. We weren't trying to replace Mo. Maybe some other players could step up and do a little more here and a little more there. Basically, that's what happened. A lot of different people stepped up."

Boston, 22 games behind the Yankees when it won the AL wild-card in 1998, finished only four games back this year, improving from 92-70 to 94-68.

The Red Sox even pressed New York in September, sweeping a three-game series at Yankee Stadium and closing within three games during the final two weeks.

After the votes were cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, the Red Sox overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Indians in the best-of-5 first-round series, then lost to the Yankees in the AL Championship Series.

"The thing I felt good about was being down 0-2 and coming back and watching these kids win," he said of the Cleveland series.

Williams wouldn't look ahead to trying to catch the Yankees next season.

"We open up against Seattle that's what we're geared for," he said. "I guess I'm too simple."

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