Paul Molitor had a strong first season as manager of the Twins. But its disappointing finish may cost him recognition today.
Molitor is one of three finalists for the Manager of the Year award, which will be revealed on a live MLB Network broadcast shortly after 5 p.m. today. And while nothing in the awards voting says the winner has to have guided his team into the playoffs, Molitor’s two fellow finalists both did, likely giving them an advantage.
Texas’ Jeff Banister led the Rangers to the AL West title, while Houston’s A.J. Hinch took the Astros to the wild-card game, narrowly edging out the Twins on the final weekend to reach the postseason. That success likely influenced the 30-member nationwide panel doing the voting, consisting of two Baseball Writers Association of America members from each AL city.
Molitor was chosen the league’s top manager of 2015 in a survey of his peers conducted by the Sporting News, having led the Twins to an 83-79 record after the franchise endured four consecutive seasons of at least 92 losses. Minnesota went 8-3 in late September to pull within one game of the Astros for a wild-card spot heading into the season’s final weekend series. But the Twins were swept by Kansas City, ending a promising season on an unsatisfying note.
Still, the Twins won 13 more games under Molitor than in 2014, an improvement exceeded only by Banister’s Rangers (a 21-win increase) and Hinch’s Astros (a 16-victory gain).
Two Twins managers have won the award since the BBWAA created it in 1983: Tom Kelly in 1991 and Ron Gardenhire, whom Molitor replaced last winter, in 2010. In addition, Sam Mele was chosen the AP Manager of the Year in 1965.
In the National League, the Cubs’ Joe Maddon is the favorite to win his second Manager of the Year award, with Mike Matheny of St. Louis and the Mets’ Terry Collins the other finalists.
Awards week continues Wednesday with the Cy Young Awards, and the MVPs will be announced on Thursday.