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MLB Manager of the Year 2021: Rays’ Kevin Cash takes AL honor; Giants’ Gabe Kapler wins NL award

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Major League Baseball is handing out its four major awards as voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) this week. On Monday, we found out the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year winners. Wednesday will be the Cy Young Awards and Thursday is the main event with the AL and NL MVP winners revealed. On Tuesday, the Manager of the Year winners were announced. 

Two voters from each chapter in each respective league voted for a top three in a system that gives five points for a first-place vote, three points for second place and one point for third. 

In the National League, Giants skipper Gabe Kapler won in blowout fashion. This is his first win and it comes in his fourth season, second with the Giants. It’s easy to see the path to victory here for Kapler. Almost no one believed the Giants would even contend this season. Their gambling over/under win total in March was 73.5. They won a franchise record 107 games. Kapler got 28 of the 30 first-place votes, one second place vote and was left off one ballot entirely. 

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Brewers manager Craig Counsell finished second after leading them to 95 wins and their second division title in four years. He did so with an offense that was 14th in the NL in average and 11th in OPS. As always, he was brilliant in managing his pitching staff throughout the season. Counsell got one first-place vote, 22 second-place votes and four third-place votes. 

Former Cardinals manager Mike Shildt checks in at third here on the strength of a late-season run to the second wild card, including a 17-game winning streak. He got a first-place vote, three second-place votes and 11 third-place votes. 

World Series champion Braves manager Brian Snitker finished fourth. I had an NL vote and sure wish we included the postseason, in which case I would have loved to vote for Snitker. Alas, it’s a regular season award and our votes are required to be handed in before the playoffs even start, so postseason performance can’t be factored in. Snitker got four second-place votes and nine third-place votes. Dave Roberts was the other manager to get on the board, earning six third-place votes. 

In the American League, Rays manager Kevin Cash won his second-straight Manager of the Year. Cash led the club to 100 wins — a franchise record — with his Rays operating on a shoestring budget and continuing to turn the roster over quicker than any other team. He always adapts and runs the team with seeming ease. They took the top seed in a loaded AL despite having three other 90-plus wins in their division. Cash got 19 first-place votes, three second-place votes and five third-place votes. 

This was the first time in AL history a manager took the honors two straight years. 

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Mariners manager Scott Servais finished second. The Mariners didn’t make the playoffs, but they came damn close to snapping the longest playoff drought in baseball. They finished two games out at 90-72 in a season where most expected them to finish in fourth place in the AL West. Again, we’ll use the gambling odds to illustrate the overachievement in terms of expectations. The Mariners number was 71.5, so they shattered it. Servais got five first-place votes. 

Dusty Baker finishes third after winning a division title with his record fifth team. Even after losing George Springer to free agency and not having Justin Verlander (Tommy John surgery), the Astros won 95 games. Keep in mind this was the first season they faced road fans after the sign-stealing scandal news broke. They also won the AL pennant, but, again, the postseason isn’t included here. Baker got two first-place votes. 

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo actually got three first-place votes, but only two second-place votes and two third-place votes. Red Sox manager Alex Cora also got a first-place vote but finished fifth. Tony La Russa finished sixth and Tigers manager A.J. Hinch grabbed three third-place votes to finish seventh. 

Here’s the full breakdown of AL and NL voting on the official BBWAA website.

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