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Kevin Cash is the AL Manager of the Year

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3rd times the charm for Cash to win the highest honor of AL baseball managers

American League Division Series Game 5: New York Yankees v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Kevin Cash is the American League Manager of the Year, winning the honor in a route.

This was the third straight year Cash was a finalist for the Manager of the Year, finishing 3rd previous two seasons. In both of those campaigns it would have been reasonable to award Cash. This year, honoring anybody else would have been a downright travesty.

Kevin Cash is baseball’s most bold, most aggressive, and perhaps most interesting manager. He certainly gives us plenty to talk and write about! Not every move of his works out, and certainly not every move is met with applause, but you can be damn sure that Kevin Cash will not shy away from responsibility for his actions. Because of that, his players always seem the first to defend him, to praise him, and to run through a brick wall for him.

He manages a clubhouse where players are respected, fun is encouraged, and hard work is expected. Kevin Cash rarely shows a ton of emotion, often keeping very calm almost dry with the media. Oh, but when he does express himself, boy does he ever!

He’s got a “whole damn stable of guys who can throw 98”. With that postgame quote, that became a rallying cry that these Rays were not intimidated by any team in baseball. It became the nickname and swagger for the best bullpen in baseball.

To earn the AL Manager of the Year, Kevin Cash lead the Rays to the best record in the American League, winning the AL East going away, all while dealing with the most stressful and weird season on record. The Rays maintained the energy and spirit through a long work stoppage, a second Spring Training, a quick ramp up to the season, a 60 game sprint, and zero off days through most of the postseason. They played hard and extremely well. They kept themselves together, and they did so safely with no outbreak scares or unsafe practices. They were the very best team in the AL, and Kevin Cash deserves to take some credit for that (even though he certainly wouldn’t want to).

This is a regular season award, so his excellent managing in the postseason and one big, major, questionable call are not factors. While the Game 6 choice in the World Series will be the big thing people remember, the Rays aren’t in that spot, they aren’t even in the World Series probably, without the bold and aggressive and often brilliant managing from Kevin Cash. He won’t always be right, and the choices won’t always work, but Kevin Cash wants to make sure he puts the Rays in the very best chance to succeed and will be willing to take the slings and arrows when it doesn’t work.

American League Championship Series Game 7: Tampa Bay Rays v. Houston Astros Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

This is the second time a Rays manager has won Manager of the Year, following Cash’s predecessor Joe Maddon in 2008 and 2011. For years, Joe Maddon was synonymous with Rays baseball. However, Kevin Cash has built on the quirky “Rays way” and blazed his own path towards taking it to the next level of innovation.

Kevin Cash has helped guide the Rays into the model of analytically driven innovation and success. It takes a whole team to achieve what the Rays have, and more hard work to build on it and keep going further and further This Manager of the Year award is both an individual and a team honor. And if you asked Kevin Cash, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Congrats to the Rays skipper on his extremely well earned (first) AL Manager of the Year award.