Kevin Cash's time has finally come.
After finishing third in the balloting each of the last two seasons, the Tampa Bay Rays skipper was named American League Manager of the Year Tuesday after leading his squad to an AL-best 40-20 record in 2020.
Cash, 42, received 22 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Rick Renteria, who was announced as a finalist just days after being fired by the Chicago White Sox, finished second in the voting. Charlie Montoyo of the Toronto Blue Jays finished third.
Cash is just the second Rays manager to win the award. Joe Maddon, now with the Los Angeles Angels, won the award twice (2008, 2011).
Cash actually took over for Maddon following the 2014 season and has since established himself as one of the best in the business. The 2020 season represented his best work, not only because of the Rays impressive record, but because of the unusual circumstances of playing baseball through a pandemic.
On top of that, the Rays’ depth was challenged by a string of injuries. Throughout the season, 12 different Rays pitchers were placed on the injured list. Overall, the team used 24 different pitchers in just 60 games. Here’s another amazing stat: Cash wrote out 59 different lineup cards in 60 games, which highlights the day-to-day uncertainty he was forced to overcome.
Throughout it all, the Rays never faltered. In fact, they flourished. After taking over first place in the AL East on Aug. 20, they never looked back, riding their wave of success all the way to the World Series. No, the postseason doesn’t have any bearing on the award, but it was clear to see Cash had them on the right path.
It probably didn’t hurt that Tampa Bay dominated the New York Yankees, going 8-2 against the division rivals during the regular season.
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