The Sporting News has named Atlanta's Bobby Cox its National League Manager of the Year for the third straight season.
Cox guided the Braves to a 96-66 record in 2004, despite losing Gary Sheffield, Javy Lopez, Vinny Castilla, and Greg Maddux from the 2003 team and over $17 million dollars off the team payroll. Most prognosticators had the Braves finishing around third place and the .500 mark before the season began.
The Braves won a division title for a 13th straight season before being knocked out of the first round of the playoffs by the Houston Astros.
Cox won his 2000th career game on September 29th as the Braves beat the New York Mets. He has a career record of 2002-1531 in 23 years as a major league manager. He is the Braves all-time winningest manager with 1647 wins. He's 9th on the list of all-time wins by a major league manager. He should pass Leo Durocher (2008) and Walter Alston (2040) next season.
This was the third straight season Cox was selected by his peers for the award and the 7th time overall.
The weekly magazine also named Atlanta catcher Johnny Estrada and outfielder J.D. Drew to its National League All Star team, selected by players in the league.
Estrada took over for long-time catcher Javy Lopez and had an outstanding season. He hit .314 with 9 home runs and 76 RBI. Estrada became just the second switch-hitting catcher since 1923 other than former Brave Ted Simmons to hit better than .300 with at least 100 games behind the plate.
Acquired from Philadelphia for Kevin Millwood in December of 2002, Estrada had 37 multi hit games, including 15 games with three or more hits. He hit .338 with runners in scoring position and had a team-high 45 two-out RBI.
Drew had career highs in homers (31), RBI (93), runs (118), walks (118), and games (145). He reached base safely via a hit, walk, or being hit by a pitch in 132 of the 144 games he batted in this season, including a 41-game streak of reaching base in midseason.
The Georgia resident also had a career-best 22-game hitting streak in 2004, along with a 16-game hitting streak late in the season.
Also named to the NL All Star team was Albert Pujols, Edgar Renteria, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds of the league champion Cardinals, along with Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, and San Diego's Mark Loretta.
Bill Shanks can be reached at email@example.com
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