David Ross finishes third in NL Manager of the Year voting
The David Ross Effect was on full display throughout the entire 2020 season.
When the Cubs hired Ross last October, they knew he would bring accountability, a competitive edge and an exceptional ability to communicate with every person in the organization.
That’s exactly who he was and more throughout the craziest year in baseball history and for his efforts, Ross was named a finalist for National League Manager of the Year. However, Miami’s skipper Don Mattingly took home the accolade (voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America), with Ross finishing third.
Anytime a skipper is in consideration for Manager of the Year during his first season, it’s an honor. But this year presented an even bigger challenge for managers everywhere and Ross rose to the occasion.
Ross kept his team in shape and ready to go during the 3.5-month shutdown and then navigated the organization through all the coronavirus testing and protocols and the mental struggles that came with all that. The Cubs were the only team in baseball without a positive COVID-19 test on the roster from the summer camp intake period through the end of the season.
On top of all that, Ross led the Cubs to a 13-3 start and the team’s first division title since 2017.
“He’s a natural,” Theo Epstein said late in the season. “It was an extremely impressive performance for a first-year manager by any standard. If you set aside for a moment 2020 and the surreal environment everyone was dealing with everyday and just focus on leading the group and running the game on the field. He was excellent as a leader in the clubhouse. He had the full respect of all the players. He was willing to have the uncomfortable conversation when it needed to be had. Willing to make the unpopular move if he felt like it was the right thing in the long run for the group or for an individual player, so showed a lot of courage that way.
“Great job. And then now throw back in everything that’s associated with 2020 and the protocols and separation from family and not having fans in the stands and just the frustrations and stress that players and staff had to internalize day after day after day. Providing the right kind of support and right kind of outlet for that, managing guys’ psyches, managing the collective psyche of this group under these circumstances — heck of a job by David Ross as our leader.”
Ross walked into the Cubs spring training complex in Arizona in February gearing up for a 162-game season but instead had to help steward the ship for a 60-game sprint that included a slew of rule changes (including the DH in the NL and larger rosters).
Ross took it all in stride and proved how his preexisting relationships with the players in the clubhouse could be an asset for him.
After Ross pulled Kyle Schwarber from a game late in the season, it didn’t lead to any drama or distraction. Instead, Ross and Schwarber were seen laughing and hugging in the dugout the very next night and the Cubs left fielder had nothing but good things to say about his manager.
“Rossy’s done a great job,” Schwarber said. “He’s treated all of us with respect. He’s been a great mentor in the game and to see how he handles us from our staff to our bullpen to the position players – communication daily. It’s great.
“You can’t say enough about Rossy and I think we all say he was made for this. I think he’s doing one heck of a job.”
As the baseball world hopes to return back to a normal season in 2021, the Cubs feel like they’re in good hands with Ross at the helm.