Despite a 91 win season and juggling a lot of injuries, Charlie Montoyo of the Blue Jays will not return as a finalist for the AL Manager of the Year award.
Based on what I’ve read over the last month or so, I think the expectation was that Montoyo would indeed end up on the ballot just as he did in 2020. The Jays ultimately fell short of qualifying for the playoffs this year, but they won 91 games and played meaningful baseball right up until the final day of the regular season. It felt like a lot of wasted potential, but there were important steps taken for a relatively young core.
Instead, the finalists for this year’s award are Kevin Cash of the Rays, Scott Servais of the Seattle Mariners, and the legendary Dusty Baker of the Houston Astros.
In my humble opinion, I believe that this is the correct final trio for this award in 2021. The Rays continue to put together elite rosters on a shoestring budget, and Cash deserves a lot of credit for what they pulled off in 2021 when you consider that they lost their best starting pitcher for nearly the entire season, and still won the ultra-competitive AL East by a comfortable margin over the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays.
Baker might be a bit of a sentimental pick this year, but I think he’s deserving of his spot for what the Astros did this season as well. Granted, they don’t have the same quality of competition to worry about in the AL West, but the Astros continued their dominance over the past half-decade without the likes of George Springer, or Justin Verlander, two key pieces to their rosters in recent years.
Lastly, my vote would go to Servais, and I have to admit that I was wrong about the Mariners all season long. As the season wore on and I obsessed over the Wild Card standings, I kept dismissing the Mariners and waited for an inevitable fall off that never came. Somehow they stayed in the thick of the Wild Card race until the final day as well. That wasn’t supposed to happen at all, and they even traded their closer ahead of the deadline in July when Kendall Graveman went to Houston, so Servais deserves a ton of credit for what went on in Seattle.
As for Montoyo’s work with the Blue Jays, I’m not going to spend much time analyzing that for today. I will say that I don’t think he’s anywhere near as bad as some folks will tell you on social media, but I’m also not ready to give him a ton of credit for the 91-win campaign in 2021 either. I believe that next season will be an important one for the 56-year-old, and I hope he’s back on the ballot at this time next year after guiding the Blue Jays to a division crown.