On Tuesday evening, Jeff Banister and Joe Maddon were announced as the winners of the American League and National League Managers of the Year, respectively. Both managers led their teams to surprise playoff appearances after playoff droughts. In the American League A.J. Hinch and Paul Molitor were the runner-ups while Mike Matheny and Terry Collins were the runner-ups in the National League.
Banister wins his first manager of the year award in his first season with the Texas Rangers. Following the early season loss of Yu Darvish, not many expected much out of the 2015 version of the Texas Rangers. Despite the low expectations, Banister was able to lead the team on a phenomenal second-half run, culminating in a first-place finish in the American League West with a final record of 88-74. This was a 21-game improvement from the Rangers’ 2014 record, and also marked the team’s first playoff appearance since they lost the AL Wild Card in 2012 following back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010-11.
Maddon, on the other hand, was not as much of a surprise. Many expected the Cubs to compete in 2015, with the signing of Jon Lester, the impending arrival of Kris Bryant and other youngsters, and the hiring of Maddon as three big reasons. Maddon led the Cubs to the third-best record in baseball, 97-65, and led them to their first postseason appearance since 2008. Following a Wild Card victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates and a bit of an upset in the first round against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs were eliminated in the NLCS against the New York Mets. Overall the Cubs improved by 24 games over 2014, and finished with their best season record-wise since 2008.
While both managers were obviously good choices to win the award, really any of the runner-ups could have taken home the trophy as well. Molitor and Hinch led the Twins and Astros, respectively, to their best seasons in years. In the National League, Matheny and the Cardinals overcame all sorts of injuries on their way to the best record in baseball, while Collins led the Mets to their first World Series appearance in fifteen seasons. But with the biggest turnarounds from 2014 to 2015, Banister and Maddon were the most logical choices for the Manger of the Year Awards.