A big improvement in the American League West and a postseason appearance in his first year on the job netted Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister 2015 AL Manager of the Year award, which was announced on Tuesday evening by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
The top three finishers were all in their first seasons at their current jobs, with Banister and Molitor in their first seasons as major league managers. All three teams saw huge improvements from 2014 to 2015, with the Rangers winning 21 more games, the Astros improving by 16 wins and the Twins notching 13 more victories.
Banister overcame a number of Rangers injuries, including getting zero games out of ace Yu Darvish, who had Tommy John surgery in March, and second baseman Jurickson Profar, who was out for the year after shoulder surgery. The Rangers were under .500 as late as Aug. 3, but a 38-21 finish gave them the American League West division title and their first playoff appearance in three years.
Hinch took over an Astros team that averaged 104 losses from 2011-2014 and had them off to a strong start with a 10-game winning streak in April that brought Houston to 18-7. The club spent a whopping 139 days in first place in 2015, and while it ultimately lost the division to the Rangers, Houston was still able to recover and capture a wild card spot with 86 wins.
Molitor, a Hall of Famer as a player, won 83 games in his first season as a manager at any level with the Twins in 2015. It was Minnesota's first winning season since 2010 and the Twins were alive in the race for a wild card spot until the season's final weekend.