You can argue which Arizona Diamondback's player was the MVP of the magically 2011 season. Ian Kennedy pitched fantastic and Justin Upton took his five-tool game to another level. You could even make the case that Miguel Montero's improved defense, solid offense and work with the pitchers made him the most valuable.
But if you ask most people who are familiar with the team who gets credit for the incredibly fast turnaround from 97 losses (2010) to 94 wins (2011), the answer is simple -- Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers.
Towers and Gibson worked well together through the offseason assembling a team that reflected their shared philosophy about baseball. They brought in coaches and veteran players with championship experience who understood how to play the game and what it takes to have the right mental attitude needed to survive and win during the grind of a long season.
Gibson pushed all the right buttons and got the most out a team with a pure talent level that didn't impress many outsiders. The result, a NL West Title in their first year together and an even brighter future to come with a bevy of young pitchers on the way to the big league team.
"I really enjoyed watching the two of them work together," CEO Derrick Hall told the Arizona Republic. "Obviously I was pleased with the results from the first season. Kirk Gibson, in particular, proved that he is a major league manager, as prepared as any I've ever seen, and I felt they were both worthy of extension."
The Diamondbacks rewarded their general manager and skipper with new contracts that ensure the pair will be with the team through 2014 with options for 2015 and 2016 according to the report in the Republic. The deals haven't been officially announced by the team but that should happen soon.