Rays' Kevin Cash a finalist for top manager honors

An American League-best 40-20 regular-season record, despite a slew of injuries, stands out.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash holds up the trophy after beating the Houston Astros 4-2 in the American League Championship Series on Oct. 17 at Petco Park in San Diego.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash holds up the trophy after beating the Houston Astros 4-2 in the American League Championship Series on Oct. 17 at Petco Park in San Diego. [ DENIS POROY | Special to the Times ]
Published Nov. 2, 2020|Updated Nov. 3, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Kevin Cash has been heavily criticized, as you may have heard, for his decision to take starter Blake Snell out in the sixth inning of Game 6 of the World Series, which the Rays went on to lose.

But Cash was honored Monday for all the work he did in leading the Rays to an American League-best 40-20 record and the top seed going in the playoffs, named one of three finalists for American League Manager of the Year.

“Any time you’re recognized by anybody that really follows and is invested in the game you’ve got to look at that as a positive, so it’s a complete honor,” Cash said Monday night. “And I think it’s a very good representation of the Rays.”

Related: Unforgettable Rays playoff moments, including one infamous decision

Results of the voting, done before the start of the postseason by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, two in each league city, will be announced Nov. 10 as part of Awards Week.

The other finalists are Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo, the long-time Rays minor- and major-league coach and manager, and Rick Renteria, who led the White Sox to the playoffs but was let go after the season, replaced last week by Tony La Russa.

Montoyo, in his second year on the job, led the Jays to the playoffs despite not having a home base until settling into Buffalo on Aug. 11.

“That’s really cool,” Cash said. "What Charlie did — everybody has their opinions on the Cardinals and Marlins for what they went through (with COVID-19 outbreaks) — I think you could make the argument that what the Blue Jays went through was as challenging as anything, the inconvenience to everything.

“It takes a special leader to be able to keep it calm, keep it consistent and he did that.”

Related: If you’re still mad at Kevin Cash, you may want to skip this column

Cash is a finalist for the third straight year. He finished third last year, behind Minnesota’s Rocco Baldelli and New York’s Aaron Boone, and also in 2018, behind Oakland’s Bob Melvin and Boston’s Alex Cora.

While the voting deadline may have helped Cash’s case, it similarly worked against Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena, whose record-setting postseason performance, including 10 home runs, was not factored in. (Of note: though Arozarena had a solid September after his Aug. 30 call-up, he also was not voted the Rays' top rookie by the Tampa Bay BBWAA, which chose reliever Pete Fairbanks.)

The three AL top rookie finalists were Astros pitcher Cristian Javier, Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis and White Sox outfielder Luis Robert.

Former Rays infield prospect Jake Cronenworth, traded to San Diego in December, was among the finalists for the National League top rookie award.

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Cronenworth hit .285 with 22 extra-base hits (15 doubles, three triples, eight home runs), 20 RBIs and an .831 OPS while starting at first base, second base and shortstop. Cronenworth was traded with Tommy Pham for Hunter Renfroe and minor-leaguers Xavier Edwards and Esteban Quiroz.

The other NL finalists are Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm and Brewers reliever Devin Williams, who allowed one earned run in 22 games.

Related: For Rays' Kevin Cash, a restless night and the same decision

The NL Manager of the Year finalists are Miami’s Don Mattingly, Chicago’s David Ross and San Diego’s Jayce Tingler, who all got their teams into the expanded eight-team NL playoff field.

For the Cy Young award, the AL finalists are Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, Minnesota’s Kenta Meada and Toronto’s Hyun-Jin Ryu, while the NL finalists are Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer (now a free agent), Chicago’s Yu Darvish and New York’s Jacob deGrom, who has a chance to win a third straight award.

Dodgers rightfielder Mookie Betts, seeking to join Frank Robinson as the only players to win the MVP award in each league, is one of the three finalists for the top NL honors. The others are Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and Padres third baseman Manny Machado, a somewhat surprising choice over teammate Fernando Tatis Jr.

The AL MVP finalists are Chicago first baseman Jose Abreu, New York infielder D.J LeMahieu and Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez, marking the third time in four seasons he finished in the top three. Noticeably missing is Los Angeles centerfielder Mike Trout, who finished first or second for seven of the past eight years (and fourth the other time).

The rookie winners will be announced Nov. 9, the Cy Young winners Nov. 11 and the MVPs Nov. 12.