Astros: Manager A.J. Hinch finished third for AL Manager of the Year
By Cody Poage
Flashback to the 2015 offseason and Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch fell short for the AL Manager of the Year award. Some things never change even two years later.
If you haven’t noticed, the Astros finished the 2017 season with 101 wins. If you didn’t actually notice, I have to ask if you were hiding under a rock.
Anyway, the101 wins were the second-best win total in Astros’ franchise history, trailing only the 102-win team in 1998. The key difference between the two teams was that the 2017 squad actually won the World Series.
And Larry Dierker, the manager of the 1998 Astros, won the NL Manager of the Year. So, there’s that.
All in all, Hinch did a wonderful job managing the Astros to their first-ever World Series title. He was able to maneuver around the extended injuries of Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, George Springer and Carlos Correa seamlessly while continuing to place the team in a position to succeed most days. There is something to be said for that.
You also have to give Hinch praise for how he handled the starting rotation and bullpen throughout the regular season. Brad Peacock as both a starter and reliever were revelations for this team in 2017. And his handling of the bullpen implosion in the postseason is worth noting. Utilizing his starting pitchers as relievers may have been a joint idea between Hinch and the Astros’ front office, but he had to make the in-game decision when the situation arose. That is not an easy position to be in as a manager of a professional baseball team.
Of course, the BBWAA voting body can only consider regular season accomplishments. The postseason, well, is null and void for the annual awards in baseball.
Back to Hinch and the results of the 2017 AL Manager of the Year.
Unfortunately, the Astros’ skipper with 56 points missed out on his first Manager of the Year award. Paul Molitor of the Twins is the actual winner of the award with 112 points as Terry Francona of the Indians finished second with 90 points. Joe Girardi makes an appearance as well with 12 points. All four were well-deserving of the award in their own ways. Molitor, in particular, led the Twins to a postseason appearance in 2017. In fact, the 2017 Twins were the first team in baseball history to earn a postseason berth following a season in which they lost 100-plus games. While they were eventually eliminated in the AL Wild Card game by the Yankees, the Twins truly had an amazing season worth remembering. Molitor played a major part in that success.
Francona won the award last season as the Indians took the league by storm in 2016. Of course, Cleveland would eventually lose out on a World Series title following a grueling seven-game Fall Classic with the Cubs. The 2017 Indians also had a fantastic season as they finished the year with 102 wins, which was only one game better than the Astros. Francona figures to be a perennial fixture in the AL Manager of the Year race as long as Cleveland remains competitive.
Girardi, the recently removed Yankees manager, received some love from the BBWAA. Honestly, he did deserve some recognition as New York was looked upon as a “rebuilding” club in 2017. Sure, the expectations for a “rebuilding” Yankees squad looks different than most clubs, but it is still impressive. 91 wins and finishing just two games behind the Red Sox is nothing to sneeze at. While Girardi is out of a job today and most likely be for the 2018 season, he will have no shortage of suitors next year. Or the year after.
Next: 5 Reasons why the Astros will repeat as World Series Champs in 2018
While the final result is obviously disappointing for Hinch and the Astros, both parties can’t be too down about it. Lest they forget that they are now the defending World Series champions.
**Statistics and information courtesy of MLB.com**