On June 19 you could have gotten much better odds that Scott Servais would be the third manager fired in 2022 (after the Phillies’ Joe Girardi and Angels’ Joe Maddon) than him winning American League Manager of the Year.

Yet that’s exactly what Servais deserves.

The job Servais has done navigating the Mariners out of their seemingly insurmountable hole has been extraordinary. During a year in which numerous managers have a case for the managerial award — particularly Brandon Hyde in Baltimore — Servais’ is the strongest.

Let’s go back to that dark day in June, when the Mariners were shut out by the Angels 4-0 on Father’s Day, causing boos to rain down when Adam Frazier struck out for the final out. It completed a 3-8 homestand that dropped the Mariners 10 games under .500 at 29-39. They were eight games out of the third wild card, with five teams ahead of them. Only the Tigers, Royals and A’s — three clubs headed toward 100 losses — had worse records in the American League. Speculation about Servais’ job security was rampant.

From that nearly hopeless nadir, the Mariners pulled off a stunning turnaround. They won five in row, eight out of 10 and then ran off the 14-game winning streak that changed the calculus of their season. Suddenly they were pushing hard for the wild-card spot that once seemed irretrievably lost — and then they were pulling away from the pack of teams behind them, including Baltimore.

It’s academic now. The Mariners, barring one of the biggest collapses in history, will soon officially end their 20-season playoff drought, longest in the four major North American men’s sports leagues. Servais will have done what a series of Mariners managers — Bob Melvin, Mike Hargrove, John McLaren, Don Wakamatsu, Eric Wedge and Lloyd McClendon — were unable to do. And what many were beginning to think simply couldn’t be done. The Mariners seemed to have an almost mystical, or supernatural, proclivity for sabotaging their chances.

And yet Servais has ended that pervasive jinx, one year after I advocated for him to win the Manager of the Year Award in 2021 for leading an unheralded Mariners team to 90 wins and a shot at the playoffs until the final day. The Mariners last year defied preseason mathematical projections that forecast them losing 92 (PECOTA) and 89 (ZIPS) games. And they defied Bill James’ Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball that projected them to go 76-86 based on their minus-51 run differential.


The way they did it last year — with a superb record in one-run games fueled be a sensational bullpen — was deemed unsustainable. Yet here they are, with a 29-19 (.604) record in one-run games entering Tuesday, once again fueled by a superb bullpen. That reflects on the man in the dugout pushing the buttons. The Mariners don’t have a single dominant closer, but Servais has been deft at playing matchups and dispersing his deep core of relievers in the proper high-leverage situations.

It’s hard to know exactly what sparked the Mariners’ turnaround. There were team meetings, the galvanizing brawl in Anaheim, the trade-deadline pickup of Luis Castillo, the earlier arrival of unifying veteran Carlos Santana. But the Mariners’ record since June 19 — 52-26 (.667) — is better than any team but the Dodgers over that span. And they did it despite some significant injuries (Mitch Haniger, Kyle Lewis, now Eugenio Suarez) and a tepid offense that didn’t get the expected contributions from offseason pickups Jesse Winker and Adam Frazier, nor from Jarred Kelenic.

What they did have was a star-making emergence from Julio Rodriguez, whom Servais was astute enough to realize early was headed for special things. The manager installed J-Rod at leadoff and let him cook. The results speak for themselves.

A word here about Hyde, who has worked miracles in Baltimore. From 110 losses a year ago, Hyde has guided the Orioles to a 76-70 record that has allowed them to hang on the fringes of the wild-card race. They are one of only five teams since 1900 to have lost 110 games one year and won at least 70 the next — and their 76 wins (through Monday) are the highest of any of them, surpassing the 73 by the 1970 Expos. The Orioles are also the first team to win more than 70 games after losing 100 the previous three years.

The Orioles have had their own share of injuries and adversity, including trading their closer (Jorge Lopez) and clubhouse leader (Trey Mancini) at the deadline. But I think back to last year, when Servais finished second in the Manager of the Year voting to Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash, I suspect largely because the M’s fell short of the playoffs.

The Orioles, as great a story as they’ve been, are going to have the same fate. They entered Tuesday’s action having lost nine of their past 14 games and face a killer schedule to end the season. Even if they backslide toward the .500 mark, it doesn’t detract from the job Hyde has done, by any means. It has been magnificent.

But what Servais has done, in keeping the Mariners from collapsing when it seemed imminent, in sustaining them down the stretch, in maximizing an elite pitching staff, and especially in ending a drought that has been the great embarrassment and albatross of the organization for two decades, should prevail.