The Miami Marlins season may have come to an end last week. However, the team still finds itself as part of the national baseball discourse. On Thursday morning, Sporting News announced their 2020 MLB awards, and among the recipients was Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
After enduring a COVID-19 outbreak which cost him more than half of his Opening Day roster, Mattingly led the Marlins to the club’s first winning record since 2009 and its first playoff berth since 2003. The Marlins earned a Wild Card spot and summarily dumped the NL Central winners, the Chicago Cubs, in a two-game sweep. Miami ultimately fell to the Atlanta Braves, but the team earned the respect of the baseball world in the process.
Mattingly Earns Manager of the Year
The Marlins lost 18 players in the COVID-19 outbreak and that was just the start of a tumultuous season for the roster. Even in a truncated 60-game schedule, Miami made 174 roster moves. The team used 61 different players over the 60 games. Miami’s nine different starting pitchers in their first nine games of the season set a new MLB record. Of the 61 players who appeared in a game for the Fish this season, 21 were rookies. 18 of those were making their MLB debut.
The fact that Mattingly navigated the team through that uncertainty and kept them competitive was not lost on most.
“He’s a great person,” said Marlins shortstop and de facto captain Miguel Rojas. “He’s a great human being before being a baseball player or manager. The communication he has with the players, the confidence he gave the players is unbelievable.”
Rojas and Mattingly both inked extensions with the Marlins in September and they’ve come together to help lead this young club forward.
“Donnie believes in our vision,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said in September. “He believes in our direction, and he’s all in. He has shown a lot of patience with our young, developing team.”
That development was clearly evident this season. The Marlins bucked every prognostication that said they’d finished last in the NL East for a third-straight season. Mattingly became the first-ever National League manager in the Modern Era to lead his team to a playoff appearance after losing 100 games the previous season.
“The great thing about Donnie is he understands what we’ve been building here as an organization,” Jeter said. “He keeps our guys competing on a daily basis.”
Mattingly is the 15th manager in franchise history. This season, he became not only the longest tenured, but also the winningest. Mattingly’s 307 wins as a manager are most, as he passed Fredi Gonzalez (276) Jack McKeon (281).
Mattingly was no stranger to award as a player, winning an MVP and three Silver Sluggers, as well as nine Gold Gloves. He becomes the third Marlins manager to win the award from Sporting News, following Gonzalez (2008) and Joe Girardi (2006).