After being named an AL Manager of the Year finalist for a third consecutive season, the Tampa Bay Rays skipper Kevin Cash finally received the honor many felt he was due on Tuesday. It’s the first time Cash has won the award, and he becomes the second manager to be honored in franchise history.

Cleveland manager, and long time friend, Terry Francona, made the announcement on MLB Network.

That was pretty cool. For me personally, if you’re going to get an award and you’re going to receive it from somebody, I don’t know if you could pick somebody better for everything he’s meant to me and my family. Just a pretty special person.

— Kevin Cash

Cash led the Rays to a 40-20 record in the truncated season — the best mark in the American League — despite starting the 2020 campaign with a 5-7 record. Tampa Bay really turned it on from that point though, going 35-13 across the final 48 games. Their .667 winning percentage was the top mark in franchise history. Still, a slow start wasn’t the only hurdle Cash and the team had to overcome, as the Rays lost a half dozen pitchers for the season due to injury, and they also had six players sidelined during summer camp due to COVID-19.

Cash credited the organization for allowing him and the team to weather the storm.

It’s a really special group, it’s a special place to work. I think it’s our job as staff to do everything we can with what’s being afforded to us.

— Kevin Cash

And while Cash had been pilloried for pulling Blake Snell in Game 6 of the World Series (cough, it was the right decision although he leaned on the wrong hurler in relief of Snell), he guided Tampa Bay to — and through — every level of the postseason; the Rays swept Toronto in the first round of the playoffs before heading to the final games of set in each of the next two series — outlasting the Yankees in the Division Series and the Astros in the Championship Series to win the pennant.

When asked by Tricia Whitaker (Fox Sports Sun) what helped him stay so even-keeled and consistent as a manager, Cash gave a self-deprecating response, which is par for the course.

Well, my daughters were the first to ask ‘Why did you take Snell out in game 6?!’ So when you’re getting it from your daughters, you can handle it from anyone. They keep me grounded.

— Kevin Cash

Cash beat out Charlie Montoyo, who guided the Blue Jays to the postseason, and (now) former White Sox Manager Rick Renteria for the award. Cash told Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) it was great to be on TV with Montoyo for the announcement as Cash says he’s learned a great deal from the team’s former third base coach and bench coach.

The Rays manager received 22 (of 30) first-place votes, five second-place votes, and one third-place vote to finish with a total of 126 points. He was left off two ballots. Renteria finished second with 61 points, while Montoyo finished third with 47 votes. All votes were submitted prior to the start of the postseason.

In south Florida, Don Mattingly of the Marlins won honors in the NL, beating out Jayce Tingler of San Diego and Dave Ross of the Cubs. It is the first time Mattingly has won the Manager of the Year award.

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