NEW YORK (AP) â€” Jerry Manuel of the Chicago White Sox was a runaway winner Wednesday in voting for the American League Manager of the Year after leading his team to the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
In a race that was no cliffhanger, Manuel received 25 first-place ballots and three seconds for 134 points in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
``It probably will be very difficult to repeat 95 wins, and also probably difficult getting into the postseason,'' Manuel said after the voting was announced, My message is to get to the postseason: 85 or 86 or 87 wins, it doesn't matter. I think postseason is more of a goal than wins.''
Oakland's Art Howe, whose team won the AL West title, was second for the second straight season, getting 74 points with two firsts, 20 seconds and four thirds.
Seattle's Lou Piniella was third with 28 points, receiving one first, three seconds and 14 thirds.
Finishing far behind were Mike Scioscia of Anaheim (eight points), Joe Torre of the New York Yankees (five), Phil Garner of Detroit (two) and Jimy Williams of Boston (one).
Manuel became the fourth White Sox manager to win the award, joining Tony La Russa (1983), Jeff Torborg (1990) and Gene Lamont (1993).
``Our team came together in a stretch of about 11 days in spring training,'' Manuel said. ``We had a lot of split squads, and there were 11 straight days where we won a game.''
Manuel's White Sox, who finished 95-67, wound up five games in front of the Indians and were the talk of baseball for much of the season. They did it with a payroll of just $37 million, which ranked 21st.
Going in, most fans predicted Cleveland would win its sixth straight AL Central title.
But Chicago won 17 of 25 games in April, taking the division lead on April 19. By June 2, the White Sox had the best record in the league, and the White Sox went 7-0 on a June road trip to Cleveland and New York.
``We caught some people not at a good time and we were playing good baseball,'' Manuel said. ``That bred some confidence in a very young team.''
Expectations play a large part in the voting. That's why Torre didn't get much support despite leading the Yankees to their fourth World Series title in five years and putting himself in strong contention for a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Voting took place before the start of the postseason, so Seattle's sweep of Chicago in the first round of the playoffs wasn't a factor.
``The thing about that sweep was we were in every ball game,'' Manuel said. ``I don't think it took a lot away from us.''
He also doesn't know how his players will respond to the poor postseason performance.
``That will be determined by how we are ready to go in spring training â€” hopefully, being focused and desperately seeking another postseason berth,'' Manuel said.