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11/18/09 2:31 PM EST

Tracy rewarded with NL Manager honor

Rox blossomed under new skipper, who gets three-year deal

DENVER -- Jim Tracy took over the Rockies on May 29 hoping to straighten out specific problems.

That he did, and for it, Tracy received on Wednesday an honor he deserved -- the National League Manager of the Year Award, as voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Tracy was the overwhelming choice of the voters. He received 29 of a possible 32 first-place votes for 151 points. Tony La Russa of the Cardinals received two first-place votes and 55 points. The Dodgers' Joe Torre received one first-place vote and finished third with 33 points.

The Rockies issued a release shortly after the results of the vote were made known to announce that Tracy and the club had finalized a three-year contract, to run through 2012. In addition, the entire coaching staff from 2009 has agreed to return for next season.

When Tracy moved from bench coach to skipper, replacing Clint Hurdle, the Rockies' offense was underperforming because of a lack of aggressiveness. Pitchers were trying too hard and veering into plans that didn't work. All around the field, the right plays weren't being made in key situations.

But after a little more than a week, the Rockies had earned a four-game road sweep of the Cardinals. Suddenly, Tracy began thinking the Rockies could do more than just put their house in order.

"We just played a terrific series," Tracy said, sounding excited and wanting to believe the series was the beginning of a trend. "We pitched great the entire series and we deserved to win these games."

The feeling Tracy had was dead-on. After an 18-28 start cost Hurdle his job, the Rockies went 74-42 under Tracy and won the National League Wild Card.

NL Manager of the Year
Manager 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Jim Tracy, COL 29 2 151
Tony La Russa, STL 2 13 6 55
Joe Torre, LAD 1 7 7 33
Bruce Bochy, SF 5 3 18
Bobby Cox, ATL 3 6 15
Charlie Manuel, PHI 2 4 10
Fredi Gonzalez, FLA 4 4
Bud Black, SD 2 2

The award was not a surprise. Tracy took NL top manager awards from The Sporting News and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the members of the BBWAA agreed.

Tracy became the second Rockies manager to win the award. Don Baylor, who rejoined the Rockies as hitting coach last offseason, when Tracy was hired to be bench coach, earned the honor in 1995.

In the end, the Rockies were 92-70, and set a club record for wins in a season while making the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. The Phillies eliminated the Rockies, three games to one, in the NL Division Series.

Several players blossomed after Tracy became manager.

Tracy pressed for the club to promote top prospect Carlos Gonzalez in June. Tracy withstood cries to demote Gonzalez after a slow start, and the outfielder finished the season with a .284 batting average, 13 home runs and 29 RBIs. In addition, Gonzalez went 10-for-17 with a home run in the postseason.

Starting pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez (15-12, 3.47 ERA, 198 strikeouts), Jorge De La Rosa (16-9, 4.38) and Jason Hammel (10-8, 4.33 ERA) made major forward strides, and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki overcame a slow start to finish with a .297 batting average, 32 home runs and 92 RBIs.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.