OAKLAND — Bob Melvin is the American League's Manager of the Year, just ask his players.
In two-plus years under Melvin's watch, the A's are 237-186 (.560) and his team is convinced that his managerial style is a significant reason why the club is competing in the American League Division Series for a second straight year.
"It all starts with your manager," pitcher Tommy Milone said. "He believes in the team and it's a very good feeling. You just want to play hard for a manager like that."
Melvin is a players' manager, who's even-keeled and keeps a loose clubhouse. His players describe him as approachable, straight shooting and up front. He makes it easy to buy in because he expresses genuine confidence in them.
"It's fair to say that he stands out," said outfielder Chris Young, who also played for Melvin with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2006 to 2009. "When you're a player, all you want is someone who will be honest with you and that's rare."
Young said Melvin is skilled at knowing how to manage the diverse group of personalities that is the A's clubhouse.
"He understands how to talk to each guy differently and get through to them to help them understand what their role is," he said.
The buy-in factor is essential for the A's, who use multiple platoons, constantly plugging different players into new roles.
Rookie right-hander Dan Straily, who was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento four times this season, said his conversations with Melvin made the yo-yo game easier to stomach.
"He reminded me to look big picture," Straily said. "He'd say, don't get upset about being sent down today — we know you'll be back and we'll need you... It helped me get through that and not lose confidence in the process."
Like Straily, Milone was asked to be flexible this season. After pitching in the starting rotation through July, Milone was sent down to Sacramento in August. When he returned, he was sent to the bullpen.
On Sept. 15, Milone made an emergency start against the Texas Rangers when Jarrod Parker was hit with a flu bug and he threw five solid innings, helping the A's sweep their AL West division rivals on the road.
Milone said Melvin helped him stay locked in by making him feel like part of the club.
"Some guys if they get shoved under the rug, so to speak, they can just crawl into a hole and give up on the season," Milone said. "With him, he makes it easy to want to get back out there and perform and possibly help the team out."
The 26-year-old southpaw said Melvin made the process of being left off the ALDS roster this week easier to swallow.
"He said, no matter what, we want you to be here with the team because you're a part of this team," Milone said. "It's nice that he's able to go out of his way to tell me something like that — he doesn't really have to. That's just the kind of guy he is. He wants to create relationships with his players and I feel privileged that he's able to do that with me."
Melvin, who is as skilled at deflecting praise as he is at managing the bullpen, dismissed the idea that he's close with his team.
"I really don't care about these guys as much as you think," he said, cracking a big smile.