TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo finished third in voting for the BBWAA’s American League Manager of the Year Award on Tuesday, live on MLB Network, after leading the Blue Jays to a 32-28 record and their first postseason appearance since 2016.
Montoyo’s good friend Kevin Cash of the Rays was the winner, with Rick Renteria, formerly of the White Sox, finishing second. Montoyo received two of the 30 first-place votes. Marlins skipper Don Mattingly was the winner in the National League.
While the 2020 season presented an array of new challenges for Major League managers, Montoyo faced something even more unique. The Blue Jays, after being denied permission to play their regular-season games in Toronto by the Canadian federal government, called Buffalo’s Triple-A Sahlen Field home for the majority of the season.
Montoyo encouraged his players to embrace that challenge and rally around it, which is where his leadership off the field became valuable to a young club. Having spent close to two decades with the Rays organization, managing through nearly every level of the Minor Leagues, Montoyo knew it could be worse, and “it’s fine” became his trademark throughout the season.
The Blue Jays played an imperfect brand of baseball in 2020, often making multiple fundamental errors in the same game before finding a way to win late. As long as they were only “physical mistakes," as Montoyo defined them, he insisted on giving his players another chance to not only make up for the mistake, but develop beyond it.
“I am so proud of my players who faced the season head on without complaints,” Montoyo said in a statement after being named a finalist. “By turning negatives into positives, we were able to focus on winning, never quitting and earning a playoff spot for Toronto, Buffalo and the country of Canada.”
This is Montoyo’s first time as a finalist for Manager of the Year and his second year at the helm of the Blue Jays, who went 67-95 in 2019 before making a jump into '20. Both general manager Ross Atkins and club president and CEO Mark Shapiro haven spoken this offseason of Montoyo’s leadership and his focus on people first.
“Charlie has been awesome. He’s really done a great job,” Atkins said recently, also giving credit to the staff around him. “He brought a group together. He’s been tough. He’s been great with his preparation and all of his leadership on so many fronts. I can’t say enough positive [things] about him.”
Montoyo and Cash, the AL winner, have a close relationship that was put in the spotlight during the American League Wild Card Series, which Tampa Bay won, 2-0. Montoyo’s club is on the rise, though, and is expected to be one of the more aggressive teams in baseball this offseason, so he’s sure to have another crack at Cash as these rivalries play out over the coming years.