A day after Twins designated hitter Miguel Sano finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting, Twins Manager Paul Molitor was handed the same result.
The winner of the AL Manager of the Year award went to Jeff Banister of the Texas Rangers, according to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. A.J. Hinch of the Houston Astros finished in second, followed by Molitor.
Molitor collected 33 points, including two first-place votes and three second-place votes. The first-place votes for Molitor came from Erik Boland of Newsday and David Brown of CBS News.
The Manager of the Year result is a disappointment. After four losing seasons, the Twins returned to winning form in 2015, finishing with their first winning record (83-79) since 2010, after many predicted it would be a fifth straight losing campaign for the team.
Molitor, it seemed, found just enough hitting, pitching and relief pitching (at least during the first half of the season) to keep them in wild-card contention until the final weekend of play.
And he did it without pitcher Ervin Santana for most of the season.
After the Twins signed Santana to a big free-agent deal, Santana promptly failed a test for performance enhancing drugs and was suspended for the first 80 games of the season. Undeterred, the team raced out of the gates anyway, including 20 wins in May.
The question now is whether Molitor can build on his first-year success. And he’ll have to do it without Torii Hunter, who retired at the end of the season. Hunter no doubt brought a lot of leadership to the clubhouse and encouragement to younger players, such as Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton.
Twins who have won Manager of the Year:
-2010, Ron Gardenhire (94-68; won AL Central Division)
-1991, Tom Kelly (95-67; won World Series)
-1965, Sam Mele, AP Manager of the Year
Mele’s squad that year won 102 games and would take the Los Angeles Dodgers to seven games in the World Series before finally losing Game 7 to Sandy Koufax.
Addendum: The Sporting News named Molitor AL Manager of the Year for 2015.