DON MATTINGLY – MIAMI MARLINS
Perhaps the biggest player’s manager in the division, Don Mattingly’s first season in Miami saw him and his team survive the ultimate challenge.
Still hanging on to Wild Card hopes late in the season, the unexpected death of Jose Fernandez in a boating accident turned baseball into simply a game. Mattingly’s job this year is more than mere wins and losses, but molding a team united in grief after a long offseason. His people skills, his greatest strength, are on full display.
Considered by some in Los Angeles as over his head during five seasons with the Dodgers, Mattingly has finished three times in the top five for NL Manager of the Year including a fifth-place finish in 2016. We may understate how good he is.
With replay challenges, he won 34 of 53 in 2016. A good sense of judgment.
As the Marlins debate upstairs how hard they want to compete for the playoffs, Mattingly faces his toughest test this year. As the grief dissipates, it is his job to keep Miami focused on the field while juggling expectations. Giancarlo Stanton remaining healthy would help.
Unless the bottom drops for the Marlins, Mattingly’s job is safe heading into 2018.