CHICAGO -- One of the most defining qualities in Robin Ventura's first year as White Sox manager was the fact that it was difficult to tell whether the team had won or lost the day before based on Ventura's demeanor.
It was even-keeled leadership provided for a team that spent 117 days in first place during the 2012 campaign.
"Anyone who has been around him understands his intelligence and his open-mindedness and his sort of calming demeanor in the clubhouse," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters at last week's General Managers Meetings. "His ability to maintain all that over the course of 7 1/2 months, including even with the fact that basically over the last six weeks we didn't have a laugher one way or the other, it was a really impressive attribute.
2012 AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR VOTING
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"He's the same guy every day. He maintains the clubhouse focus on the next day, no matter win, lose or draw."
Ventura's steady leadership played a role in the White Sox somewhat surprising 85-77 showing and second-place standing in the American League Central. It also helped Ventura finish third in the 2012 AL Manager of the Year balloting, as voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The award was announced on Tuesday evening, with Ventura checking in behind Oakland's Bob Melvin and Baltimore's Buck Showalter.
Although Ventura had no previous coaching or managing experience at any level, he took to this job as if it was his 20th year in the profession. Ventura presided over a fundamentally sound squad, areas of the game that he stressed from the outset of Spring Training.
He took over for Ozzie Guillen, a good friend of Ventura's and a highly successful manager in his own right over the previous eight years in Chicago. They also had in common a strong commitment to the White Sox from their playing days with the organization.
In fact, Ventura probably wouldn't have taken this job if it wasn't the White Sox who asked.
"Part of the enjoyment factor is that I enjoy being here with the White Sox," said Ventura during a September interview with MLB.com. "I don't know if it would be as enjoyable somewhere else to just do the job."
"Like they say in football, some guys have a nose for the football. Some guys have a nose for managing. I think he does," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "He really has done a terrific job."
Even the disappointing White Sox finish to what looked like a postseason-bound first year didn't last long with Ventura. He simply moved on to 2013, when he will be a seasoned veteran on the job. Instead of placing the focus on the next game, Ventura is now focusing on the next season.
"There's disappointment, but not anything you can do about it," Ventura said. "You look at how it happened and what happened and what things could be done to be different. You go on from there and look forward to next year in Spring Training."