Cash finishes 3rd in AL Manager of the Year voting

November 15th, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG -- Though it didn’t end with a division title or a playoff run deep into October, this season may have been Kevin Cash’s finest work in the Rays dugout.

Cash guided the Rays to 99 victories, a sixth straight winning season and a fifth consecutive trip to the postseason despite a season-long barrage of injuries, the loss of All-Star shortstop Wander Franco and the usual tough competition that comes with playing in the American League East.

But it wasn’t enough for Cash to take home his third AL Manager of the Year Award. That honor went to the Orioles’ Brandon Hyde on Tuesday night, as Hyde received 27 of the 30 first-place votes and 144 points in the voting. Cash finished third, with 52 points in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America balloting.

Bruce Bochy, whose Rangers eliminated the Rays in the AL Wild Card Series on their way to a World Series victory, finished second with 61 points, including three first-place votes. Hyde was the only manager named on all 30 ballots after overseeing the AL East champion Orioles’ remarkable turnaround and leading them to 101 wins this year.

Cash earned 13 second-place votes and 13 third-place votes, as he appeared on one more ballot than Bochy (25), and finished far ahead of fourth-place finisher Rocco Baldelli of the Twins (eight points).

Before the results were announced on MLB Network, Cash offered his congratulations to fellow finalists Bochy and Hyde.

“We had plenty of battles with those two teams, so you’ve got so much respect for them,” Cash said during the telecast. “Really proud of our guys. Really proud of the way they were able to withstand some of the adversity.”

That adversity is what led Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander to deem this Cash’s most impressive season at the helm. The Rays had 23 players spend 1,429 days on the injured list and had to use 58 players, including 10 making their Major League debuts, while only five players from the Opening Day roster remained active all season.

Tampa Bay lost three-fifths of its starting rotation to season-ending injuries by early August -- along with Franco, who went on indefinite administrative leave -- but still had the Majors’ third-best record from Aug. 1 through the end of the season.

“I think even just in August and September alone, if I had a dollar for every person that said, 'How in the world is this team competing and winning and doing the things they do?' I think we'd be able to finance not one stadium, but two,” Neander quipped last month.

Cash was named AL Manager of the Year in 2020 and ’21 after placing third in ’18 and ’19, and he received one third-place vote last year. He has now received Manager of the Year votes in six consecutive seasons, a testament to Tampa Bay’s success and his steady leadership.

“We dealt with more adversity [this year], but [I'm] incredibly proud of the group and just the overall organizational effort that was put forth to have a very successful season,” Cash said on MLB Network.

That has become the norm for Cash, as the Rays have reached the postseason a franchise-record five years in a row, with one AL pennant and two AL East titles during that run. He has been at the helm for the Rays’ three best seasons, by winning percentage, in franchise history: 2020 (40-20), 2021 (100-62) and this past season (99-63).

With mentor Terry Francona stepping down from his post with the Guardians, Cash is now the longest-tenured manager in the Majors. Next year will be Cash’s 10th season with the Rays, breaking his tie with Joe Maddon (who also managed nine seasons with Tampa Bay). Cash is 16 wins away from having the most in franchise history, with 739 compared to Maddon’s 754, and boasts the best winning percentage in franchise history (.545, compared to Maddon’s .517).