Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty is Sporting News' 2010 executive of the year, as selected by a panel of 24 of his peers.
Cincinnati was the surprise winner of the N.L. Central this season and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 1995. The Reds' 91 wins were the most for the team since 1999, and they had their first winning season in 10 years.
When Jocketty was named Reds general manager in April 2008, his first goal was obvious: "We had to teach everybody from the front office to the players that we can turn this around and be successful," Jocketty told Sporting News.
Jocketty, who previously served as general manager for the A's and Cardinals, says accomplishing that goal made this one of the most enjoyable seasons of his 36-year career in baseball.
"This year was very significant because you saw a young club that really came together after the addition of some veterans for their influence on and off the field," Jocketty told Sporting News. "We were able to achieve a lot more than people thought we would. In our minds, we thought we were a good club, but I'm not sure we thought we were a playoff club. As the season went on, you could see a club getting better and better. That made this a fun year."
Another highlight was the offseason signing of Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, whose triple-digit fastball electrified the majors. The Reds unexpectedly outbid the majors' big-market teams to sign Chapman.
"I was on a fan caravan a few weeks later, and the fans were going crazy over Chapman," Jocketty told Sporting News. "I had one season-ticket holder say, 'Even if this kid never pans, the fact the Reds made a statement like this and went for it showed that the organization was serious about winning again.' "
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