The awards season continued Wednesday with the focus on Manager of the Year in the American League and National League, another award presented by the Baseball Writers Association of North America (BBWAA).
In the National League, the winner was Gabe Kapler of the San Francisco Giants, while in the American League the award went to Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays, who also won it in 2020. Cash joins Bobby Cox as the only driver in history to win Manager of the Year in successive seasons.
Kapler got 28 of the 30 votes for first place. Counsell, who finished in second place, received one vote for first place, while Shildt (3rd) took the other. Brian Snitker of the Braves finished in fourth place and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers in fifth.
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Kapler had a big responsibility ahead of him when he replaced Bruce Bochy as the Giants manager in November 2019. The move was not well received by Giants fans, but the president of the baseball operations department, Farhan Zaidi , defended the decision and made it clear that he was willing to risk his own reputation by making Kapler the chosen one to lead the club.
Two years later, it is difficult to disprove the results. After going 29-31 in his first year at the club, Kapler led the Giants to a franchise record of 107 wins and their first NL West divisional title since 2012, something quite remarkable taking note that, according to the projections of the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA system, the forecast was 75 wins.
Cash sent again
Cash, who outvoted Scott Servais (2nd place) of the Mariners and Dusty Baker of the Astros (3rd), navigated a series of obstacles to lead what turned out to be a historic season in Tampa Bay. Puerto Rican Charlie Montoyo of the Blue Jays finished fourth, compatriot Alex Cora of the Red Sox in fifth, Tony La Russa of the White Sox in sixth and AJ Hinch of the Tigers seventh.
By mid-June, the Rays were without their top three starters for the 2020 World Series team: Charlie Morton (option not exercised), Blake Snell (traded) and Tyler Glasnow (injured). They spent most of the season without the best reliever of that club from last year, Nick Anderson, and traded Diego Castillo to the Mariners. They faced a litany of pitching body injuries, navigated several offensive bumps from some of their best players, and traded a key player in clubhouse culture (Willy Adames) in late May.
None of that mattered. The Rays finished with the best regular-season performance in franchise history by winning 100 games and conquering the AL East with ease, so it’s simply impossible to ignore the impact Cash and his coaches had on the club. He will finish with the best record of the Young Circuit.
Cash created a positive and relaxed atmosphere that allowed the players to feel comfortable being themselves. He seamlessly managed a roster built on depth and flexibility rather than stars, using 61 players (including 38 pitchers) and 158 different lineups during the regular round. He is a skilled driver when it comes to making decisions in games, putting his players in the best position to be successful and getting them to accept their roles (even if they are not always traditional), while supporting them when they go through the occasional slumps. .
As the president of the Rays baseball operations department, Erik Neander, put it: “I can’t imagine someone doing a better job than he has done here.”
Winners are chosen by a vote of BBWAA members conducted prior to the start of the postseason. (MLB in Spanish)