In the days after the Baltimore’s season ended in a three-game thudding sweep by the Texas Rangers, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was still stewing over the defeat.
Even though he’s experienced the lowest of lows during his tenure, this particular loss, after leading the team to heights they haven’t reached in years, really hurt.
“I’m still irritated,” he said. “I’m still frustrated. I’m still pissed.”
The Orioles still won 101 games this season, taking the American League East and hosting a playoff game for the first time in nearly a decade. Hyde played a big part in that, and was rewarded Tuesday with the American League Manager of the Year award. He’s just the fourth manager in Orioles history to earn the recognition, and the first since Buck Showalter in 2014.
Hyde received 27 of 30 first-place votes. Rangers’ manager Bruce Bochy finished second. Voting is done during the regular season.
“I’m just proud of what we accomplished up until this point,” Hyde said Tuesday. “This is definitely not an individual award, I don’t look at it as that. I look at it as a team award, an entire coaching staff award, really an entire organization award.”
It comes after Hyde’s Orioles lost 332 games in his first four years in Baltimore, the team suffering through two 100-loss seasons. He stayed late in his office after particularly bad defeats, rewatching games and trying to piece together a lineup for the next day from his slim pickings. He tried to stay patient — believing that they would come out on the other side — and attempted to hide any frustrations from his players.
“During those years, I had confidence that we would turn it around, but you struggled to see when, to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Hyde said.
In 2022, his roster got stronger as the next wave of prospects, led by Adley Rutschman, arrived. They got even better in 2023. Gunnar Henderson, the AL Rookie of the Year, cemented his place as a major leaguer. Kyle Bradish broke out as a frontline starter in the rotation, Félix Bautista as the closer of their bullpen.
All the while, Hyde, who had never managed a major league team before the Orioles took a chance on him in 2018, had a new challenge: learning how to lead a winning ball club. His style grew aggressive, especially as the season went on and the stakes got higher. He managed games, he said, like they could all be his last. Players were swapped as early as the fourth inning if he thought the match-up was better. Starters were taken out early, oftentimes at the first signs of trouble.
The losses, fewer and further between, started to sting more.
“I take it as hard as anyone else,” he said. “When things don’t work out the way you want it to, I wear it big time.”
On Sept. 17, the day the Orioles clinched their first playoff spot since 2016, Hyde used all but one player on his bench. Eleven days later, he used his entire bench to beat the Red Sox to clinch the division.
He gathered his players in the clubhouse both times.
“Nobody believed in us,” he relayed. “No one.”
The Orioles, though, did, and still do. They kept him once it was clear the Orioles were on the path to contention, giving Hyde the chance to take a team from the dark days into the limelight. They intend to keep him — Hyde is under contract for another season — despite the painful early playoff exit.
And now, Hyde, a year after losing manager of the year, has a national award that says the rest of the country sees it, too.