Don Mattingly Should Be the Runaway Pick for National League Manager of the Year

Don Mattingly, Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins - Game Two
Don Mattingly, Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins - Game Two / Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Miami Marlins lost a playoff series for the first time in franchise history on Thursday, as the Atlanta Braves finished off a three-game sweep in the National League Division Series. While it was a disappointing exit for Miami, the team's season has been nothing short of remarkable. After what the Marlins accomplished, Don Mattingly should be the runaway pick for National League Manager of the Year.

Miami had the worst record in the National League in 2019 (57-105), yet Mattingly and his coaching staff were able to turn things around and shock everyone in 2020. The Marlins finished the year with a 31-29 record and they swept the heavily-favored Chicago Cubs in the Wild Card Round.

They were able to do all of that despite having their season shut down for more than a week due to a COVID-19 outbreak early in the season. That outbreak forced them to play 57 games in 55 days including seven doubleheaders to make up for missed games. They closed the season playing 28 games in 24 days.

A team that opened the season with a two percent chance of making the postseason and was forced to use replacement players to fill the gaps while others were quarantined. A total of 18 players were sidelined by COVID-19, and 18 made their major league debuts this season. Somehow, through it all, Mattingly was able to guide a ragtag group of players to the postseason.

Here's another crazy fact: despite reaching the postseason, the Marlins didn't have a single player rank among the top 68 in fWAR this season. Their top representative was Miguel Rojas (1.6) and he ranked 69th, while pitcher Pablo Lopez (1.6) ranked 70th. That means Miami truly had no real stars to lean on, instead it was a total team effort.

Mattingly's first four seasons in Miami were a disaster. He posted a combined record of 276-370 (.427), which is horrific. No one would have blamed management for firing him after the 2019 season. But, to their credit, the Marlins hung with Mattingly and he rewarded them with a stellar performance in 2020.

I don't expect Mattingly to be a unanimous pick for NL Manager of the Year, but he should get close. Jayce Tingler has done a phenomenal job in his first year with the San Diego Padres, but he had far more to work with than his counterpart in Miami.

Mattingly took a pile of nothing and spun gold. He should be rewarded with some hardware shortly.