Kevin Cash is honored to be mentioned in the same sentence with Bobby Cox.
“That’s wrong. I shouldn’t,” said Cash. “But to say that is incredibly humiliating. When you think of greats in our game, Bobby Cox is spot on.”
Cash has now achieved something only Cox has achieved before – back-to-back manager of the year awards. Cash won the American League honor on Tuesday night. The Tampa Bay skipper was accompanied by Gabe Kapler from San Francisco, who won the National League Award.
Cox won two consecutive years of NL honors with Atlanta during his Hall of Fame career in 2004-05.
That is the achievement that Cash has now achieved. He led the low payroll Rays to the AL East crown for the second consecutive season that season. Tampa Bay (100-62) finished with the best record in the AL before losing to Boston in the Division Series.
The Rays made it to the World Series in 2020, but Cash came under fire for removing the starting pitcher Blake Snell in the final game. But if anything, quick hooks like this have been a pretty normal strategy this year’s postseason – perhaps another example of Cash and Tampa Bay being ahead of the curve in new ways to approach the game.
The Rays are now 2 for 2 on major awards. Outfielder Randy Arozarena was voted Rookie of the Year on Monday. It hasn’t always been the smoothest season for Tampa Bay – right-hander Tyler Glasnow and emergency helper Nick Anderson were injured – but the Rays held back threats from the Red Sox and Yankees in their division as well as an improving Toronto squad.
“We had the youth, we had the athleticism and, ultimately, the talent to do really well,” said Cash.
Seattle’s Scott Servais took second place behind Cash in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America membership vote. Houston’s Dusty Baker finished third.
Charlie Montoyo of the Blue Jays finished fourth, followed by Alex Cora of the Red Sox, Tony La Russa of the White Sox and AJ Hinch of the Tigers.
Cash received 19 of the 30 winners.
Kapler won the NL Award after leading San Francisco to the top 107 victories in its second season with the Giants. He beat Craig Counsel of the Milwaukee Brewers and Mike Shildt of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Kapler made two seasons in Philadelphia before he was fired. The Giants hired him after Bruce Bochy retired. Kapler had big footsteps to fill – Bochy won three championships with San Francisco – and a team struggling to take the lead. When the Giants went 29-31 in the 2020 season shortened by the pandemic; it was her fourth consecutive loss record.
Then, in a year when the star-laden Dodgers and Padres battled for supremacy in NL West, San Francisco rose to the best record in baseball. The Giants beat the Dodgers by a Division Crown game, despite losing to Los Angeles in a highly competitive Division Series.
Kapler said he learned to be a good listener.
“I think I’ve really started to respect, understand and appreciate the feedback I get from players on a regular basis,” he said. “I really trust our players.”
As it turned out, Bochy was the person who announced Kapler’s award on the MLB network show.
“I still feel like it is impossible to follow in Bruce Bochy’s footsteps,” said Kapler.
Maybe it is, but now Kapler has done something Bochy never did at the Giants – to be named Manager of the Year. Bochy received the award in 1996 when he was with the Padres.
Kapler becomes the first Giants manager to win since 2000, when Baker received the honor for the third time in eight years.
Counsel finished second to Kapler after leading the Brewers to the NL Central title. Shildt finished third – a month after he was fired over Cardinal President John Mozeliak, which he described as philosophical differences.
Brian Snitker of World Series Champion Braves and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers were the other managers who got votes.
Kapler received 28 of the 30 first-placed winners before the start of the playoffs.
The Cy Young Awards will be announced on Wednesday evening. Tampa Bay won’t win this: the AL finalists are Gerrit Cole of the Yankees, Lance Lynn of the White Sox and Robbie Ray of the Blue Jays.
The NL finalists are Max Scherzer, who pitched for the Nationals and Dodgers this year, along with Corbin Burnes from the Brewers and Zack Wheeler from the Phillies.
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