Mattingly reels in NL Manager of Year Award

Marlins' skipper becomes 5th former MVP to win both

November 11th, 2020

MIAMI -- Marlins manager Don Mattingly was a model of consistency in an MLB season filled with so much uncertainty.

With his even-handed approach, Mattingly guided the surprising Marlins to a second-place finish in the National League East and a postseason berth.

On Tuesday night, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America honored Mattingly for his efforts. The BBWAA named Mattingly the 2020 NL Manager of the Year.

“More than ever this year, you had to be steady,” Mattingly said Tuesday night during a conference call. “We were going to celebrate the fact that we were in a pennant race. I just wasn't willing to let our guys give up on that. That was the biggest thing. We're not giving up on the fact that we can do this.”

The award is a fitting tribute to Mattingly, who has transformed the culture in the clubhouse for a team coming off two straight last-place finishes and a combined 120-203 record in 2018-19.

“We felt like we were turning that corner,” Mattingly said. “Our starters were coming. We had depth in the Minor Leagues. We felt like we had young position players coming. We started to see the depth at the higher levels. It was not like they were in A ball or were two years away. They were going to be a phone call away.”

The 59-year-old Mattingly finished with 20 first-place votes and eight second-place votes for 124 points. Jayce Tingler of the Padres finished second with six first-place votes and 71 points, and David Ross of the Cubs was third with 25 points.

Mattingly becomes the third Marlins manager to receive the honor, joining Jack McKeon (2003) and Joe Girardi (2006).

Mattingly, who enjoyed a legendary 14-year playing career with the Yankees, also joins a small list as a former MVP Award winner (1985) also winning a BBWAA Manager of the Year Award. “Donnie Baseball” is the fifth individual to claim both awards, joining Don Baylor, Frank Robinson, Kirk Gibson and Joe Torre.

In an unprecedented and unpredictable year, Mattingly guided the Marlins to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. And with a 31-29 record, Miami finished with its first winning mark since 2009.

Arguably MLB’s biggest surprise story, the Marlins advanced to the NL Division Series, where they were swept in three games by the Braves.

In the NL Wild Card Series, the Marlins eliminated the Cubs in two games.

The improbable path to the postseason came after the Marlins finished 57-105 in 2019. Mattingly guided Miami to becoming the first NL team in history to make the playoffs the year immediately following a 100-loss season.

Reaching the playoffs came in the Marlins’ third season under the ownership group led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The organizational blueprint was to build up from the farm system, and in 2020, many of high-end prospects -- like right-hander contributed at the big league level.

Other core players, like third baseman and starters and also moved closer to reaching their primes.

“Everything that we've been through, we wanted to turn this corner,” Mattingly said. “This year, things were starting to turn.”

As magical as the Marlins’ journey to the postseason was, few could have predicted it would finish that way considering how the season started.

“There were not a lot of people that gave us much chance of doing anything over the [originally scheduled] 162 [games],” Mattingly said. “It was a better chance in 60, because it was different.”

Mattingly helped hold the team together through a COVID-19 outbreak, which landed 18 players on the injured list in the first week.

Miami ended up making 174 roster moves and used 61 players, with 18 rookies making their MLB debuts. Just five players were on the active roster the entire season.

Even with so much roster turnover, Mattingly successfully was able to help the Marlins clear every hurdle in front of them.

“He’s a great person,” shortstop said. “He’s a great human being before being a baseball player or a manager.”

Miami’s unofficial team captain, Rojas has known Mattingly longer than any player on the club. When the shortstop broke in with the Dodgers in 2014, Mattingly was the manager in Los Angeles.

“The communication that he has with the players, the confidence that he gave the players is unbelievable,” Rojas said.

During the season, Mattingly surpassed McKeon as the franchise’s all-time wins leader. McKeon went 281-257, and Mattingly is at 307-399.

Before moving on to Miami in 2016, Mattingly managed the Dodgers from 2011-15, posting a 446-363 record, including three straight NL West Division titles.

The BBWAA award is the second Manager of the Year honor won by Mattingly this offseason. In October, he was named NL Manager of the Year by Sporting News. He’s the third manager in franchise history to receive that honor, joining Girardi (2006) and Fredi González (2008).

“I want to be a teacher,” Mattingly said. “I want to be a guy who helps these guys grow.”