CARLSBAD, Calif. — Following a season where his team defied expectations of mediocrity, winning 90 games and pushing for a postseason spot to the last game, Mariners manager Scott Servais has been named a finalist for the 2021 American League Manager of the Year award.

The announcement came in an hourlong show on MLB Network that named all the finalists for the annual awards voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The other two finalists for the AL Manager of the Year award were Dusty Baker of the Houston Astros and Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays.

“Scott had a magnificent season in every way,” said Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners president of baseball operations. “While dealing with a variety of adversities, he remained focused in leading our team. I believe his overall decision making, especially with bullpen management, was about as flawless as you’ll see over the course of a long season. He deserves this recognition. I can’t think of a more deserving candidate.”

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Coming into the season, the Mariners seemed destined for a sub-.500 record with question marks surrounding their daily lineup and bullpen. Most sabermetric algorithms, including Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA and FanGraphs’ ZIPS, projected the Mariners to win 70 to 71 games while most baseball experts had them finishing third or fourth in the American League West behind the Astros, A’s and Angels.

Instead, the Mariners won 90 games in a season for the first time since 2003. They did so despite an inconsistent offense heavily reliant on the first four hitters in the lineup and a starting rotation riddled with injuries and inconsistency. Veteran starter James Paxton was lost for the season in the second inning of his first start while youngsters Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield, both members of the opening-day roster, made 25 combined starts.


“It speaks volumes to where we’ve come as an organization,” Servais said. “For me, from what our players, our coaching staff and our front office, what we were able to overcome and accomplish this year, I think it says a lot for all those people. Anytime you’re a finalist or you win any of these types of awards, it’s the group around you that really gives you the opportunity to experience something like this.”

Using a bullpen of largely unknown relievers with no set roles, the Mariners excelled in one-run games, posting a 33-19 record. They also had 14 extra-inning victories, which tied a franchise record.

The low point of the season for the Mariners came late in May. After being no-hit twice in the span of 10 days and losing a handful of relievers to COVID-19 protocols, they fell to 21-26 on May 23 after being swept by the Padres and getting outscored 31-7.

Servais held a meeting after that Sunday game to reassess what they were trying to accomplish. From there, the Mariners posted a 69-46 record.

“It’s really a credit to the players and the coaches just grinding through it and believing in each other,” Servais said. “I think the most exciting thing is we know we can really get a whole lot better from that. We’ve got to add more talent, more players. But going through it this year, I think a lot of our people learned a lot. That’s what excites me going forward.”

Over the club’s final 48 games, the Mariners went 31-17 (.646), good for the best record in the AL during that span (Aug. 11 to Oct. 3).

If Servais, who didn’t get a contract extension until Sept. 1, wins the award, he will join Lou Piniella (1995, 2001) as the only other Mariners manager to bring home the honor.

During his time with the Mariners, Servais has 438 managerial wins and a .503 winning percentage, both ranking second best in franchise history and trailing only Piniella.