Rick Renteria isn’t the White Sox manager anymore. He was, however, evaluated as doing one of the finest managerial jobs in the American League this season.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced Tuesday the results of the AL Manager of the Year vote, with Renteria finishing second, trailing only Kevin Cash of the AL-champion Tampa Bay Rays. Renteria received five of the 30 first-place votes.
The award is often bestowed upon a skipper who takes a team from a low point to a high point in the standings, and there’s no doubt that’s what happened with the White Sox this season.
They lost 89 games in 2019 and, after a busy offseason, made their long awaited ascent out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. With 10 games to go in the shortened regular season, the White Sox owned the best record in the AL, that thanks to an eye-popping midseason stretch that saw them win 23 of 29 games. They reached the postseason for the first time in a dozen years.
But the White Sox didn’t fare well down the stretch, dropping eight of their final 10 regular-season games and losing two of their three games against the Oakland Athletics in the AL Wild Card Series. They went from the top team in the AL to the No. 7 seed in their half of the playoff bracket. Still, they came within a game of winning the AL Central crown.
During that late-season skid, Renteria took a ton of heat from the fan base, particularly for his bullpen management during a trio of consecutive late-game losses in Cleveland. He was again the subject of fan scorn following Game 3 of the AL Wild Card Series, when he pulled starting pitcher Dane Dunning in the first inning and turned to a parade of relievers, who, while mostly terrific during the regular season, couldn’t get the job done in that game.
The White Sox made a managerial change 12 days after they were eliminated with that loss, general manager Rick Hahn outlining a search for a replacement who had experience taking a team to the championship level, which Renteria obviously did not gain in his one season managing the Cubs on the North Side and his four years on the South Side.
Of course, he never got the opportunity to do so. But he did what was asked of him, helping the White Sox develop their young players into stars in the making, all while earning rave reviews for building relationships with his players and creating a positive clubhouse culture. In his first season as a manager with playoff expectations, he reached the playoffs.
And because of it, he was one of the top vote-getters for the AL Manager of the Year Award.